Note: This article contains details that some readers may find upsetting.
Sarah Harding has opened up about her battle with cancer, revealing the news that she was diagnosed with sepsis and had to be placed into a two-week medical coma.
The Girls Aloud singer and Celebrity Big Brother winner is releasing her autobiography, Hear Me Out, next week (March 18) and excerpts from it have appeared in The Times, which she hopes will inspire people to not ignore potential signs of cancer.
"One day I woke up realising that I'd been in denial," she said of a bruised lump on her breast. "Yes, there was a lockdown, 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...
"I was a mess when they told me it was breast cancer – like anyone would be. Being faced with your own mortality is not something you consider, but that's how that moment felt for me. I just remember thinking: well, that's it, game over. The oncology breast nurse tried her best to make me feel better...
"In hospital I learnt very quickly what amazing human beings nurses are. Those nurses sat with me at night as I cried, and it was in those moments when I realised that what they were doing was more than just a job. Some of them would ask me about life in Girls Aloud, and I'd tell them stories about our antics on tour."
Sarah also detailed how she was taken to intensive care due to developing sepsis, and had to be placed into a coma for two weeks.
"When I was first brought out of it, I didn't wake up," she explained. "That was a worry for a while. I eventually came round and stayed in intensive care for a further two weeks. Even once I was off the ventilator, I couldn't speak properly. All I could do was make noises that sounded like a chimpanzee trying to communicate."
Following her mastectomy, which saw "virtually all" of her breast removed with no chance of reconstruction, Sarah had admitted to struggling to look at herself in the mirror. She explained that doctors then discovered a tumour near her brain, and has said that she doesn't want to go through the radiotherapy and lose her hair.
"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," she wrote. "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.
"As my treatment progressed, I was adamant that I didn't want the news about my diagnosis getting out. However, there was a little part of me that thought, maybe if I could bring myself to talk about it, it might help others who are going through something similar...
"As scary as it was to go public about my diagnosis, it was the right thing to do, and the amount of support I've received is incredible. I’ve been inundated with lovely messages from my fans. I'm grateful beyond words for that."
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