Sarah Harding has shared how Christmas 2020 was probably her last, as she battles aggressive breast cancer.
Having undergone a mastectomy and intensive chemotherapy following her summer 2020 diagnosis, the Girls Aloud singer’s cancer has now spread to her spine.
In excerpts from the 39-year-old’s new book Hear Me Out published by the Times on Saturday, Sarah writes candidly about her diagnosis and treatment.
Sarah explains: “In December my doctor told me that the upcoming Christmas would probably be my last.” And she adds later: “I’m at a stage now where I don’t know how many months I have left.”
Sarah is currently considering treatment options for a secondary tumour at the base of her spine, that has possibly grown into her brain.
However she doesn’t want to undergo radiotherapy as this would mean also losing her hair.
While she knows some might consider this ‘vain’, Sarah argues that if she only has a few months left, losing her hair is not worth it.
Having already faced the trauma of losing her breast and being too ill to have a reconstruction – which has left her unable to look in the mirror – Sarah wants to keep her blonde hair.
And, the Celebrity Big Brother winner writes: “I don’t want to feel like I have to spend whatever time I have left hiding away.”
She also does not want an exact prognosis, and can’t see why anyone would want that.
Instead of dwelling on how many months she has left, Sarah is concentrating on making the most of the time she has.
“I’m trying to live and enjoy every second of my life, however long it might be,” she explains.
This means enjoying simple things like having a lie-in, roasting a chicken with her mum who is acting as her carer, or watching Family Guy if she can’t sleep.
One thing she would love is a final chance to go dancing on tables with her friends again. While coronavirus has meant Sarah cannot see as much of friends and family as she would have liked during her treatment, she still dreams of a final catch up.
Once known for her love of a party, Sarah admits she pines for one final get together.
She writes: “I think what I’d really like to do is to see everyone – all my friends, all together. One last time… a way to say thank you and goodbye.”
Sarah also talks about her diagnosis, which came late as she was too scared to seek help during the pandemic.
She ignored her breast lump until it was extremely painful, self medicating with pain medication she ‘popped like Smarties’ even when she could no longer sleep in bed.
The singer also reveals that she was so ill she almost died of sepsis in hospital when a port was fitted before she began chemotherapy treatment.
Sarah explains how she was put in a medically induced coma for two weeks, but failed to wake when she was brought round. After finally coming to, she spent another two weeks in intensive care.
All that time on a ventilator affected her speech, with Sarah only able to make noises. She compares herself to a ‘chimpanzee trying to communicate.’
Sarah, who found fame on Popstars in 2002, talks in detail of her experience being treated for cancer.
Sharing the intense fear she felt, she thanks the doctors and nurses who cared for her with tenderness and compassion, when Sarah’s friends and family were unable to be at her side due to coronavirus restrictions.
Unable to have visitors, nurses stepped in to fill the void, with one even helping her overcome her fear of sleep after her coma by sleeping at her side.
Sarah urges fans to check their breasts regularly and immediately seek treatment if they have any suspicion things are not right, saying that message was her motivation in writing her book.