Cheryl has paid an emotional tribute to former Girls Aloud bandmate Sarah Harding following her tragic death to breast cancer at the age of 39.
The singer, who also modelled and had a starring role in the St Trinian’s film series, passed away on Sunday, just 13 months after confirming her terminal cancer diagnosis. Her death was announced by her devastated family on social media.
Taking to Instagram on Monday afternoon, Cheryl – who enjoyed more than a decade of chart success with Sarah – shared an image of her former bandmate alongside a caption in which she credited Sarah’s fans for their unwavering support during her final months.
Moving: Cheryl has paid an emotional tribute to former Girls Alou bandmate Sarah Harding following her tragic death to breast cancer at the age of 39
She wrote: ‘Although we knew this day would arrive I am somehow still feeling at a loss for words that our stunning, unique, crazy, quirky, kind and soft hearted girl has departed.
‘As I try to navigate my way through these painfully strange and horribly unfamiliar waves of disbelief & finality I am experiencing, I wanted to extend my condolences to all of our GA fans. We were like an extended family for so long and we know so many of you by name.
‘I wanted to make sure you knew just how much your love and continued support meant to Sarah through her most vulnerable times. She was so grateful and you really lifted her spirits when she needed you most… I also realize so many will be deeply affected by the circumstances of Sarah’s passing… I am sending you all so much love. I love you Sarah… farewell.’
Bandmate Kimberley Walsh had previously paid tribute to her late bandmate, sharing a trio of snaps with her former bandmate, in a post that came hours after Nicola Roberts and Nadine Coyle, paid tribute on social media.
Kimberley, 39, Nicola, 35, Nadine, 36, and Cheryl, 38, were in the chart-topping band with Sarah from 2002-2013.
Old times: Cheryl enjoyed more than a decade of chart success with Sarah in their hugely popular girl group (pictured in 2012, L-R: Kimberley Walsh, Nicola Roberts, Sarah Harding, Cheryl and Nadine Coyle)
Treasured memories: Cheryl and Sarah toured the world with Sarah after finding same on talent show Pop Stars: The Rivals in 2000 (pictured in 2005)
Touching: Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh has also paid tribute to her late bandmate following her untimely death
Heartbreaking: The singer, who also modelled and had a starring role in the St Trinian’s film series, passed away on Sunday, her family announced, just 13-months after confirming her cancer diagnosis (pictured in 2010)
On Monday morning, Kimberley posted: ‘Beautiful Sarah this hurts so bad. To wake up and know that you are really gone is too much to bear. Hearing your infectious chuckle was one of my favourite things in the world…
‘Your fire burned so bright and you loved, lived and laughed so hard. Sending love and strength to everyone who is grieving today. My heart is broken’.
Nicola said ‘my heart is aching’ as she posted photos of the pair on their first video shoot for Sound of the Underground back in 2002 – shortly after they were formed on Popstars: The Rivals.
She wrote: ‘I’m absolutely devastated and I can’t accept that this day has come. My heart is aching and all day everything we went through together has raced round my mind.
Touching: She shared a trio of throwback snaps and a heartbreaking message
‘Especially this last year since her diagnosis, as hard as the year has been, our new memories are strong in my heart. There are so many things to say and at first it felt to personal to put them here and then I remembered that there are so many other people grieving her too.
‘A part of me or us isn’t here anymore and it’s unthinkable and painful and utterly cruel. She would have loved your messages today.
‘Electric girl, you made us. You gave it everything and still with a smile. A white butterfly flew past my window this morning before I knew, it must have been you.’
Memories: Nicola said ‘my heart is aching’ as she posted photos of the pair on their first video shoot for Sound of the Underground back in 2002 – shortly after they were formed on Popstars: The Rivals
A sign: Nicola said she believed she had received a sign from Sarah before her death was announced
Brink of sttardom: The pair were seen posing together as they filmed their debut music video in the early noughties
Nadine wrote: ‘I am absolutely devastated!! I can’t think of words that could possibly express how I feel about this girl & what she means to me!! I know so many of you will be feeling this way. For now I’m sending so much love to you!!!’
Geri Horner of the Spice Girls paid tribute to Sarah, writing on Twitter: ‘Rest in peace, Sarah Harding. You’ll be remembered for the light and joy you brought to the world’ .
Former Big Brother host Davina McCall wrote in a tribute to Sarah: ‘So so sad to hear about Sarah… a star from the get go, hugely fun and outgoing yet also somehow fragile… love to her family and friends.’
RIP: Nadine was the first member of the band to pay tribute on social media as she shared a photo of Sarah along with a heartfelt message
Fearne Cotton was among those paying tribute on the Instagram post from Sarah’s mother announcing her passing.
She 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.’
Alesha Dixon has described Sarah as a ‘shining star’ following her death. The singer and talent show judge said on Twitter: ‘A sad day! Such a shining star! Rest in peace beautiful Sarah.’
Fellow TV star Denise Van Outen commented on the Instagram post from Sarah Harding’s mother, Marie, announcing her death.
Bandmates: Sarah and Nadine are pictured in 2004 in Dublin, Ireland
Star: The singer was one fifth of Girls Aloud, who were formed in the early noughties. She is pictured in 2003 with bandmates [Top L-R] Nicola Roberts, Nadine Coyle, [Bottom L-R] Kimberley Walsh and Cheryl
Katie Price paid tribute to Sarah on Instagram, sharing a photo of them appearing together on a panel show. She wrote: ‘I’m devastated to hear my friend, @sarahnicoleharding has passed…
‘You were always such a genuine and honest person, I will remember all the laughs we used to have back in the day…I always valued Sarah’s friendship and my thoughts go out to her family and friends.’
Good Morning Britain presenter and weatherman Alex Beresford recalled interviewing Sarah in a tribute posted on Twitter. Sharing a photo of them together, he said: ‘Such sad news to hear the passing of Sarah Harding…
‘Had the pleasure of meeting her a few times and sat down to interview her once. On all occasions she was so lovely. A tragic loss to breast cancer.’
Leading the tributes: The likes of Spice Girl Geri Horner and Big Brother host Davina McCall shared their thoughts of the star
Devastated: The likes of Fearne Cotton, Alan Carr, Piers Morgan, Ortise Williams, and Calum Best paid tribute too
Reminiscing: Louis Walsh, who was a judge on ITV’s Popstars: The Rivals in 2002 when Girls Aloud was formed, said he will remember Harding with ‘great fondness’
She wrote: ‘This is so heartbreaking. Rest in peace beautiful Sarah. Thinking of you all. Family and friends’.
Elsewhere model and presenter Jodie Kidd wrote: ‘Heart aches, fly high and shine bright bubba girl x I am so so sorry’.
Former Spandau Ballet member Martin Kemp tweeted his condolences to Sarah’s family and friends. ‘Sarah Harding so sad, my heart goes out to all your friends and family and all your fans,’ he tweeted. ‘Rest in peace!’
BREAST CANCER FACTS AND FIGURES
– How many people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 15% of all new cancer cases.
Across Britain there are some 55,200 new breast cancer cases every year – about 150 every day, according to Cancer Research UK (CRUK).
About one in every eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.
– What are the survival odds of someone diagnosed with breast cancer?
More than three-quarters of people (76%) survive breast cancer for a decade or more after their diagnosis, CRUK figures show.
But there are still about 11,400 breast cancer deaths in the UK every year.
– What are the symptoms?
The first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue.
Most breast lumps are not cancerous, but it is always best to have them checked by a doctor.
Breast pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer, but there are a number of other symptoms.
TV presenter Vernon Kay described Harding as ‘the driving energy in the room’ on social media. ‘Very sad news,’ he tweeted. ‘From the moment Pop Idol finished GA were regularly on T4 and Radio1. Sarah was always the driving energy in the room… RIP.’
Sabrina Washington from girl group Mis-Teeq also shared a tribute to Sarah on Twitter. She penned: ‘Our paths had crossed many a time over the years and everytime was filled with such warmth and energy. Nobody lit up a room like you did. You’ll never be forgotten – RIP Sarah Harding.’
Boyband Blue shared a tribute to Girls Aloud star Sarah on Twitter. ‘We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Sarah Harding. Her light shone bright but was gone all too soon. Our thoughts are with her family in this difficult time,’ they wrote.
Reality TV star Calum Best has spoken of the ‘crazy fun times and adventures’ he had with Sarah. He said on Twitter: ‘Jesus this one hits home, so damn sad, so young. I hope u rest In peace Sarah we had some crazy fun times and adventures. U will be so very missed. Sending so much love to ur mom.’
His post was accompanied by three pictures of him with the former Girls Aloud member.
A devastated JLS star Oritse Williams tweeted: ‘Heartbreaking to hear that Sarah Hardingfrom Girls Aloud has just passed away after a long battle with cancer. The times we met she was always so bubbly, such a big beautiful personality. My sincerest sympathies and heart goes out to Sarah’s friends, family & band members.’
Meanwhile Steps star Ian ‘H’ Watkins wrote on the Instagram post: ‘Fly high beautiful Sarah xx I will miss you xx’.
Former Strictly Come Dancing professional James Jordan tweeted ‘life is so bloody cruel sometimes’ after Harding’s death was announced.
Kym Marsh, whose band Hear’Say was created on ITV show Popstars, also paid tribute to Sarah Harding. She wrote on Twitter: ‘I’m so very sorry to hear of the passing of Sarah Harding. What a beautiful girl and person she really was.
‘I don’t claim to have known her very well but what I did know was how fun and kind she really was. My thoughts are with her family and friends at this time. Sleep tight.’
TV personality Lizzie Cundy said she is ‘heartbroken’ following the death of Sarah Harding. In a post on Twitter, accompanied by a picture of them together, she said: ‘A beautiful girl inside and out … Heartbroken. Thank you for the fun times dear Sarah. Rest in peace my friend.’
A tweet from the official account of Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly said: ‘Such sad news. RIP Sarah xx’.
Model and actress Marissa Jade tweeted that she was ‘glad’ Sarah Harding was ‘in a better place’. Harding joined Jade in the Celebrity Big Brother house in 2017 – which the Girls Aloud member went on to win. She penned: ‘Just heard the news. Glad you are in a better place. Feels like yesterday we were in the CBB house and I was giving you a therapy session on how to stay calm, strong & don’t leave the house! No more pain beautiful. Rip’
Singer-songwriter MNEK tweeted following the death of Sarah: ‘mannnn, my heart goes out to Sarah Harding’s family, what a shame.’
Louis Walsh, who was a judge on ITV’s Popstars: The Rivals in 2002 when Girls Aloud was formed, said he will remember Harding with ‘great fondness’.
In a statement, he said: ‘It’s just sad she has gone too young. She was always fun and the life and soul of the party. Anytime she came to Dublin in the early days we went out to the pod nightclub and would be the last to leave.
‘It’s just so unfair, I was hoping she was getting better. She was fun and loved music, dancing and life. I will remember her with great fondness.’
The day after the news was announced, her CBB co-star, Gogglebox’s Sandi Bogle spoke about her late friend on Good Morning Britain, saying: ‘Yeah as you said it is devastating news to hear what happened to Sarah. She was amazing, beautiful, talented kindhearted…
‘I mean, we shared so many times together, we cried on each other’s shoulder we shared so many intimate moments people don’t realise how kind hearted she was, it was devastating news.’
On cancer diagnosis she said: ‘Yes she shared a lot… [she was] fragile but a strong, strong woman and we could share the same pain because it is going through my family as well, my mother passed away from cancer, my sister has cancer, we had a connection which we were able to talk about and especially in the __ it’s hard but behind that face, you don’t realise how painful what is going on between the scenes, behind the house’.
Brave: Lady Victoria Hervey also detailed her friendship with the star in a tribute on Monday morning
On her relationship with Sarah in CBB, she went on: ‘Oh my god, as my dancing partner, first one on the floor and last one off the floor, last one standing we used to stay to each other…
‘She was amazing I love her so much people don’t realise how amazing she was. She was a fireball and I was a fireball that’s why we connected. She was real, what you saw is what you get and she didn’t change for anyone, she was amazing and talented and she will be truly missed…
‘And now we need to educate people to know you need to go get checked. Because awareness, it’s about bringing awareness. We’ve lost someone who was beautiful and special but it’s also about bringing awareness.’
Sarah, who teamed up with the likes of Cheryl Tweedy to form Girls Aloud while on reality singing show Pop Stars: The Rivals, revealed last year she had been diagnosed with cancer.
An honour: Sarah and Lady Victoria are pictured at a Mulberry Fashion Party in London on 20 Sep 2009
A message from Sarah’s mother Marie was posted to the star’s Instagram account today, which read: ‘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’
A message from Sarah’s mother Marie was posted to her Instagram account. It read: ‘It’s with deep heartbreak that today I’m sharing the news that my beautiful daughter Sarah has sadly passed away’
Born in Ascot, Berkshire, in 1981, Sarah spent most of her school years in Stockport, Greater Manchester. She worked in a nightclub promotions team after leaving school.
She also toured North West England performing at pubs, social clubs, and caravan parks to support herself while pushing for a career in the arts.
Sarah found fame in 2002 when she won a place on Popstars: The Rivals – a precursor to the Pop Idol franchise.
She teamed up with, Cheryl, Nadine, Nicola and Kimberley in Girls Aloud and the band took the UK by storm soon after.
Plans: Sarah was reportedly planning a solo career as a blue singer prior to her cancer diagnosis and had been honing her skills as a guitarist before the diagnosis last August [pictured in 2018]
The group achieved twenty consecutive top ten singles – including four number ones – in the UK and six platinum studio albums before the band took a hiatus in 2009.
Sarah was reportedly planning a solo career as a blue singer prior to her cancer diagnosis and had been honing her skills as a guitarist before the diagnosis last August.
Speaking to The Sun, a source said: ‘Sarah really wanted to revamp herself as an altogether different kind of artist to her Girls Aloud days. She was on a journey to find herself musically and re-brand as a blues artist, as that’s where her passion is.
‘She was playing guitar all night until her fingers bled and watching videos of her favourite performers in order to perfect her sound.
‘Her health issues meant she didn’t get a chance to lay down any tracks, but there’s hope she will eventually be well enough to put out the kind of music she loves.
‘She was looking forward to being in the driving seat and surprising people.’
Sarah recently revealed she is taking cannabis oil to ease her pain as she continues to undergo treatment for breast cancer.
A source said: ‘Sarah really wanted to revamp herself as an altogether different kind of artist to her Girls Aloud days’ [Girls Aloud are pictured in 2007]
In an extract from her autobiography Hear Me Out, the pop star said she decided to try the treatment after it was recommended to her by pal Duncan James.
It comes after Sarah also revealed that her cancer treatment is ‘moving in the right direction’ and her tumours have ‘shrunk,’ since she publicly revealed her diagnosis back in August.
In her book Sarah revealed Duncan suggested she try CBD oil after he found benefits from the treatment when he suffered a back injury during a stage show.
She said: ‘He’d used it after he suffered a massive back injury, while he was doing drag and wearing heels in Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert.
‘I figured that if it was something that could help Duncan in that situation, then I should definitely give it a go.’
Improving: Sarah recently revealed she’s taking cannabis oil to ease her pain as she continues to undergo treatment for breast cancer
‘I figured I should definitely give it a go’: The Girls Aloud star, 39, said she decided to try CBD after revealing her cancer treatment is ‘moving in the right direction’
CBD oil is a legal cannabinoid that can be sold in the UK, and is thought to have some medicinal properties, including relieving inflammation, pain and anxiety.
It comes after Sarah revealed tumours in her brain and lung have shrunk with treatment.
The musician revealed she had been battling breast cancer in August 2020 and recently said she does not know how many months she has left to live after her cancer spread to her spine.
The media personality spoke of her joy that treatment – including weekly chemotherapy sessions – had achieved this milestone and that she was able to enjoy a ‘relaxing Christmas.’
Ending the book, Sarah wrote: ‘MRI scans at the end of December revealed that the tumours in my brain and in my lung have shrunk a bit with the treatment.’
The TV star said that while she didn’t know ‘exactly what this means’, ‘right now, every little victory feels momentous.
Illness: In another tragic update from the book, she penned: ‘In December my doctor told me that the upcoming Christmas would probably be my last. I don’t want an exact prognosis’
She continued: ‘With this news under my belt, I was able to enjoy a relaxing quiet Christmas with mum and yes, I got plenty of lovely Christmas pressies.’
Sarah ends the book with: ‘At the moment, I’m just grateful to wake up every day and live my best life, because now I know just how precious it is.’
In a further recent excerpt from the book, shared by The Times on Saturday, Sarah said Christmas 2020 was ‘probably her last.’
In the latest tragic update from the book, she penned: ‘In December my doctor told me that the upcoming Christmas would probably be my last. I don’t want an exact prognosis. I don’t know why anyone would want that…
Sharing an update: In January, the singer told her Instagram followers that she had a ‘lovely but quiet’ Christmas with her mother and their dogs, rounding out a ‘strange’ year
‘Comfort and being as pain-free as possible is what’s important to me now. I’m trying to live and enjoy every second of my life, however long it might be. I am having a glass of wine or two during all this, because it helps me relax.’
The singer added that she now wants to try and ‘enjoy’ herself as she doesn’t know ‘how many months I’ve got left’.
At present, the Call The Shots hitmaker is considering her options for treatment of the secondary tumour at the base of her spine, which may now have spread to her brain.
However, she’s adamant that she doesn’t want to undergo radiotherapy and risk losing her hair, with Sarah noting that although this may sound ‘vain’, she feels that if she only has months left to live then it’s not worth it.
The star explained how after facing the agony of losing her breast, she doesn’t want to lose her signature blonde locks as well.
Tribute: Before paying tribute to Sarah, Geri was seen at the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands with husband Christian Horner
Sarah went to to say that her priority now is to spent as much time as possible with her mother and friends before she dies, while the star is also hoping to throw a huge party to say ‘goodbye’ to her loved ones.
As Sarah looked back at the start of her journey, she added: ‘At first I thought it was just a cyst. The trouble was the pain was getting worse. It got so bad that I couldn’t sleep in a bed. Eventually my skin started to bruise. By now I was terrified.
‘One day I woke up realising I’d been in denial. Yes there was a pandemic but it was almost as if I’d been using that as an excuse not to face up to the fact that something was very wrong.’
Sarah went on to detail her experience of being put into a coma for an extended period of time, and added that she struggled to form speech even when she was taken out of it.
Sarah explained: ‘With both my lungs and kidneys failing, doctors decided to put me into an induced coma. Even once I was off the ventilator I couldn’t speak properly. All I could do was make noises like a chimpanzee trying to communicate.’
If you have been affected by this story, call Macmillan Cancer Support on 0808 808 00 00.
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world and affects more than two MILLION women a year
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. Each year in the UK there are more than 55,000 new cases, and the disease claims the lives of 11,500 women. In the US, it strikes 266,000 each year and kills 40,000. But what causes it and how can it be treated?
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer develops from a cancerous cell which develops in the lining of a duct or lobule in one of the breasts.
When the breast cancer has spread into surrounding breast tissue it is called an ‘invasive’ breast cancer. Some people are diagnosed with ‘carcinoma in situ’, where no cancer cells have grown beyond the duct or lobule.
Most cases develop in women over the age of 50 but younger women are sometimes affected. Breast cancer can develop in men though this is rare.
Staging means how big the cancer is and whether it has spread. Stage 1 is the earliest stage and stage 4 means the cancer has spread to another part of the body.
The cancerous cells are graded from low, which means a slow growth, to high, which is fast growing. High grade cancers are more likely to come back after they have first been treated.
What causes breast cancer?
A cancerous tumour starts from one abnormal cell. The exact reason why a cell becomes cancerous is unclear. It is thought that something damages or alters certain genes in the cell. This makes the cell abnormal and multiply ‘out of control’.
Although breast cancer can develop for no apparent reason, there are some risk factors that can increase the chance of developing breast cancer, such as genetics.
What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
The usual first symptom is a painless lump in the breast, although most breast lumps are not cancerous and are fluid filled cysts, which are benign.
The first place that breast cancer usually spreads to is the lymph nodes in the armpit. If this occurs you will develop a swelling or lump in an armpit.
How is breast cancer diagnosed?
- Initial assessment: A doctor examines the breasts and armpits. They may do tests such as a mammography, a special x-ray of the breast tissue which can indicate the possibility of tumours.
- Biopsy: A biopsy is when a small sample of tissue is removed from a part of the body. The sample is then examined under the microscope to look for abnormal cells. The sample can confirm or rule out cancer.
If you are confirmed to have breast cancer, further tests may be needed to assess if it has spread. For example, blood tests, an ultrasound scan of the liver or a chest x-ray.
How is breast cancer treated?
Treatment options which may be considered include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone treatment. Often a combination of two or more of these treatments are used.
- Surgery: Breast-conserving surgery or the removal of the affected breast depending on the size of the tumour.
- Radiotherapy: A treatment which uses high energy beams of radiation focussed on cancerous tissue. This kills cancer cells, or stops cancer cells from multiplying. It is mainly used in addition to surgery.
- Chemotherapy: A treatment of cancer by using anti-cancer drugs which kill cancer cells, or stop them from multiplying
- Hormone treatments: Some types of breast cancer are affected by the ‘female’ hormone oestrogen, which can stimulate the cancer cells to divide and multiply. Treatments which reduce the level of these hormones, or prevent them from working, are commonly used in people with breast cancer.
How successful is treatment?
The outlook is best in those who are diagnosed when the cancer is still small, and has not spread. Surgical removal of a tumour in an early stage may then give a good chance of cure.
The routine mammography offered to women between the ages of 50 and 70 mean more breast cancers are being diagnosed and treated at an early stage.
For more information visit breastcancercare.org.uk, breastcancernow.org or www.cancerhelp.org.uk