Cheryl makes a rare return to Instagram to support Sarah Harding amid her breast cancer battle

Cheryl and the rest of her Girls Aloud bandmates shared their messages of support to Sarah Harding, who on Thursday updated fans on her breast cancer battle. 

Sarah, 38, told her followers she ‘can’t deny things are tough right now’ but she is ‘fighting as hard as I possibly can’, after revealing she her cancer had progressed to advanced-stages in September. 

The Girls Aloud star also announced she has written a memoir called Hear Me Out, with Cheryl, 37, Kimberley Walsh, 39, Nicola Roberts, 35, and Nadine Coyle, 35, reposting the front cover of their book on their stories. 

Support: Cheryl (pictured last year) and her Girls Aloud bandmates shared their messages of support to Sarah Harding, who on Thursday updated fans on her breast cancer battle

Support: Cheryl (pictured last year) and her Girls Aloud bandmates shared their messages of support to Sarah Harding, who on Thursday updated fans on her breast cancer battle

Support: Cheryl (pictured last year) and her Girls Aloud bandmates shared their messages of support to Sarah Harding, who on Thursday updated fans on her breast cancer battle

Cheryl returned to Instagram for the first time since June to re-upload Sarah’s book announcement and wrote atop: ‘Well this is going be an interesting read. Love you @sarahnicoleharding.’ 

Nadine, meanwhile, typed: ‘My lovely Sarah has a book coming out and I can’t wait to read what she got up to when I was getting up to it with her!!’. 

Kimberley and Nicola echoed their sentiments telling Sarah they were ‘so proud’ of her for putting together a memoir. 

Her story: The Girls Aloud star announced she has written a memoir called Hear Me Out as she spoke about her health in a candid post

Her story: The Girls Aloud star announced she has written a memoir called Hear Me Out as she spoke about her health in a candid post

Her story: The Girls Aloud star announced she has written a memoir called Hear Me Out as she spoke about her health in a candid post

Sticking together: Cheryl, 37, Kimberley Walsh, 39, Nicola Roberts, 35, and Nadine Coyle, 35, reposted the front cover of their book on their stories. Cheryl said 'Love you'

Sticking together: Cheryl, 37, Kimberley Walsh, 39, Nicola Roberts, 35, and Nadine Coyle, 35, reposted the front cover of their book on their stories. Cheryl said 'Love you'

Sticking together: Cheryl, 37, Kimberley Walsh, 39, Nicola Roberts, 35, and Nadine Coyle, 35, reposted the front cover of their book on their stories. Cheryl said ‘Love you’ 

On Thursday morning, Sarah wrote alongside a childhood photo: ‘Hi everyone. Thank you so much for all the messages of love and support that I’ve received since my last post. 

‘Everyone has been so kind and reading your comments and DMs has been such a huge source of strength to me. 

‘I can’t deny that things are tough right now but I’m fighting as hard as I possibly can and being as brave as I know how.’

'Fighting hard': The Girls Aloud star, 39, admitted she is finding things difficult at the moment but assured her followers that she is 'fighting hard' and 'being brave' (pictured in August)

'Fighting hard': The Girls Aloud star, 39, admitted she is finding things difficult at the moment but assured her followers that she is 'fighting hard' and 'being brave' (pictured in August)

‘Fighting hard’: The Girls Aloud star, 39, admitted she is finding things difficult at the moment but assured her followers that she is ‘fighting hard’ and ‘being brave’ (pictured in August)

Encouragement: Nadine, meanwhile, typed: 'My lovely Sarah has a book coming out and I can't wait to read what she got up to when I was getting up to it with her!!'

Encouragement: Nadine, meanwhile, typed: 'My lovely Sarah has a book coming out and I can't wait to read what she got up to when I was getting up to it with her!!'

Encouragement: Nadine, meanwhile, typed: ‘My lovely Sarah has a book coming out and I can’t wait to read what she got up to when I was getting up to it with her!!’

Tales from the band: Kimberley and Nicola echoed their sentiments telling Sarah they were 'so proud' of her for putting together a memoir

Tales from the band: Kimberley and Nicola echoed their sentiments telling Sarah they were 'so proud' of her for putting together a memoir

Tales from the band: Kimberley and Nicola echoed their sentiments telling Sarah they were 'so proud' of her for putting together a memoir

Tales from the band: Kimberley and Nicola echoed their sentiments telling Sarah they were 'so proud' of her for putting together a memoir

Tales from the band: Kimberley (L) and Nicola (R) echoed their sentiments telling Sarah they were ‘so proud’ of her for putting together a memoir

Sarah went on to reveal she has been asked to write a book about her life, which has given her something ‘positive’ to focus on throughout her hospital treatment. 

The singer continued: ‘In September the lovely people at Ebury Publishing asked me if I would be interested in writing a book about my life story.

‘It came at such a good time for me as it’s given me something fun and positive to focus on while I’ve been stuck at home in between trips to the hospital for treatment.

Post: 'I can't deny that things are tough right now but I'm fighting as hard as I possibly can and being as brave as I know how,' Sarah wrote

Post: 'I can't deny that things are tough right now but I'm fighting as hard as I possibly can and being as brave as I know how,' Sarah wrote

Hope: Sarah went on to reveal she has been asked to write a book about her life, which has given her something 'positive' to focus on throughout her hospital treatment

Hope: Sarah went on to reveal she has been asked to write a book about her life, which has given her something 'positive' to focus on throughout her hospital treatment

Post: ‘I can’t deny that things are tough right now but I’m fighting as hard as I possibly can and being as brave as I know how,’ Sarah wrote

‘I’ve nearly finished it now and this week Mum and I have been looking though old photos choosing which ones to include. 

‘It’ll be out after Christmas and I’m really proud of it. I hope you’ll like it. Sending lots of love to everyone – I hope you’re all keeping well – S x’ 

Sarah’s devastated Girls Aloud bandmates rallied round her after the singer revealed she had been diagnosed with ‘advanced’ breast cancer earlier this year.

She shared her shocking diagnosis with fans on Instagram, leading to an outpouring of support from an array of stars, including the band. 

Sarah disappeared from the public eye two years ago, with Girls Aloud having split in 2013. 

The band were dogged by rumours of secret feuds within the band in subsequent years, with Cheryl, Nicola and Kimberley forming a notably closer bond.

Sarah, meanwhile, gained a party girl reputation through her wild antics, explosive love affairs and a rehab stint in 2011.   

Beloved: The singer is best known as a member of Girls Aloud, who split in 2013 (pictured second left with L-R Cheryl, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh in 2009)

Beloved: The singer is best known as a member of Girls Aloud, who split in 2013 (pictured second left with L-R Cheryl, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh in 2009)

Beloved: The singer is best known as a member of Girls Aloud, who split in 2013 (pictured second left with L-R Cheryl, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh in 2009)

But the band have since put any differences aside and are closer than ever in supporting Sarah. 

The Celebrity Big Brother star announced her shocking diagnosis along with a snap taken from her hospital bed back in September, as she explained she’d been undergoing weekly chemotherapy sessions, but the cancer has spread to ‘other parts of her body.’

She wrote: ‘Hi everyone, I hope you are all keeping safe and well during these uncertain times. 

Non-stop: Her life was fraught with love affairs and drama, including a rehab stint in 2011

Non-stop: Her life was fraught with love affairs and drama, including a rehab stint in 2011

Party girl: Sarah is known for her wild nights out as a member of pop band Girls Aloud, and her life was fraught with love affairs and drama, including a rehab stint in 2011 (pictured in 2005)

‘I’ve not posted on here for so long, thank you to everyone who has reached out to check in on me, it really does mean a lot. 

‘I feel now is the right time to share what’s been going on. There’s no easy way to say this and actually it doesn’t even feel real writing this, but here goes. 

‘Earlier this year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and a couple of weeks ago I received the devastating news that the cancer has advanced to other parts of my body.’

Sarah continued: ‘I’m currently undergoing weekly chemotherapy sessions and I am fighting as hard as I possibly can,’ before adding: ‘I am doing my very best to keep positive and will keep you updated here with how I’m getting on.’

If you have been affected by this story, call Macmillan Cancer Support on 0808 808 00 00.

Pals: Sarah shot to fame in 2002 when she became a member of the pop band Girls Aloud, through talent series Popstars: The Rivals (pictured at the time)

Pals: Sarah shot to fame in 2002 when she became a member of the pop band Girls Aloud, through talent series Popstars: The Rivals (pictured at the time)

Pals: Sarah shot to fame in 2002 when she became a member of the pop band Girls Aloud, through talent series Popstars: The Rivals (pictured at the time)

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

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