SARAH Harding has died aged 39 following a battle with cancer.
The Girls Aloud star was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer last August and underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy in a bid to prolong her life.
Sarah released a book called Hear Me Out which documented her life as a pop star and chronicled her fight with cancer earlier this year.
Her mum Marie today confirmed the heartbreaking news on Sarah’s Instagram alongside a touching picture of the star.
She wrote: “It’s with deep heartbreak that today I’m sharing the news that my beautiful daughter Sarah has sadly passed away.
“Many of you will know of Sarah’s battle with cancer and that she fought so strongly from her diagnosis until her last day.
“She slipped away peacefully this morning. I’d like to thank everyone for their kind support over the past year. It meant the world to Sarah and it gave her great strength and comfort to know she was loved.
“I know she won’t want to be remembered for her fight against this terrible disease – she was a bright shining star and I hope that’s how she can be remembered instead.- Marie x”.
Friends told The Sun Sarah, who would have turned 40 in November, had passed away at home this morning.
A friend said: “Sarah slipped away with her family around her.
🔵 Read our Sarah Harding blog for the latest updates
“She was very much loved.”
Tributes have already started flooding in from her showbiz pals.
TV star Fearne Cotton wrote: “Oh my gosh I’m so sorry to hear this. I’m sending your family so much love and strength.
“She was always kind and so much fun to be around. I’m very sorry for your loss. Prayers and love to you.”
While Sheridan Smith said: “So sad. What a sweetheart she was. Life is too short!”
Sarah shared the news of her diagnosis with her social media followers and fans last August.
From then on she kept them up to date with her progress and wrote about her experiences in Hear Me Out, which went on to be a bestseller.
In the book, Sarah wrote about reuniting with her Girls Aloud bandmates Cheryl Tweedy, Kimberley Walsh and Nadine Coyle and said they had become close again.
She also spoke candidly about her experience of living with cancer and told how she had almost died following a battle with sepsis while in hospital.
At the time she wrote: “I’m just grateful to wake up every day and live my best life, because now I know just how precious it is . . . nothing is certain any more.”
Sarah had thought chemotherapy was working until the secondary tumour destroyed her hopes.
She added: “The disease has worsened, as has my prognosis. This tumour is the thing that scares me more than anything because I think it will be the thing that affects me the most.
“I don’t know what it’s going to do, but it’s there. There’s an option for radiotherapy on my skull but I don’t want to go through that and lose my hair at this stage, especially with no guarantees at the end of it.
“It might seem vain thinking about my hair, but my thinking was that if there’s a chance I’ve only got six months, then I’ve got six months.
“Losing my hair probably wasn’t going to change that, so if there’s another way to manage the disease or treat it, then let’s do that. I don’t want to feel like I have to spend whatever time I have left hiding away.”
Sarah also wrote about being told how the Christmas just past would be her last and explained she had asked doctors not to give her a time.
She explained: “I don’t want an exact prognosis. I don’t know why anyone would want that. Comfort and being as pain-free as possible is what’s important to me now.
“Silly little things make me happy: my lie-ins, watching Family Guy on TV through the night when I can’t sleep, roasting a chicken for Mum and me on a Sunday, if I’m feeling up to it.”
In March Sarah released a previously unheard song, Wear It Like Crown, with all proceeds from the sales going to The Christie NHS Foundation where she had received cancer treatment.
The song went straight to No1 on iTunes, with Sarah calling her fans the “best in the world”.
What is breast cancer and how does it spread?
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK – with one woman diagnosed every ten minutes.
While most women can get breast cancer, it is most common in women who are over the age of 50.
According to Cancer Research UK, breast cancer starts in the breast tissue.
Breast cancer develops when abnormal cells in the breast begin to grow and divide in an uncontrolled way and eventually form a growth.
Most invasive breast cancers are found in the upper-outer quadrant of the breast.
If it’s not diagnosed and treated it can move through the lymph or blood vessels to other areas of the body.
Each year in the UK there are around 55,200 new breast cancer cases.
This equates to around 150 new cases a day.
It also accounts for 15 per cent of all new cancer cases each year.
If the cancer is diagnosed at its earliest stage then 98 per cent of people will survive the disease for five years or more.
If it is diagnosed at the latest stage, then just 26 per cent of people survive for five years or more.
What are the four stages of breast cancer?
Stage one: The cancer is small and only in the breast tissue – but can also be found in lymph nodes close to the breast.
Stage two: The cancer is either in the breast or in the nearby lymph nodes or both.
Stage three: The cancer has spread from the breast to the lymph nodes or the skin of the breast or the chest wall.
Stage four: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
What are the signs?
- A lump in the breast or armpit
- Changes in the positioning of the nipple
- Nipples leaking in women who have not had children
- Skin changes
She said at the time: “I can’t believe you nutters got the song not only into the charts, but to NUMBER ONE! I love you all so much, you are the best people in the world.
“So, while I was searching through my laptop for old photos to include in the book I actually came across a song I’d recorded about ten years ago. I’ve always really loved it, and it made me feel a bit sad that no one ever got to hear it.”
After Girls Aloud were created in 2002 on ITV talent show Popstars: The Rivals, Sarah went on to have a glittering music career with the band.
The group, who split in 2013, had four No1 singles and 21 UK top ten hits, as well as two No1 albums.
Sarah also appeared in several acting roles such as Run for Your Wife, and St. Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold.
She won Celebrity Big Brother in 2017, with more than a third of the public vote.