SARAH Harding has opened up about her "fears" of seeing her Girls Aloud bandmates for the first time after undergoing chemo.
The 39-year-old singer is currently undergoing intensive chemotherapy treatment for aggressive breast cancer that has spread to her spine.
Brave Sarah has battled side affects from the treatment, which left her bloated and with her eyelashes falling out.
The star said she was hesitant to meet up with bandmates Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle, Kimberly Walsh and Nicola Roberts as she worried they'd "turn up looking fabulous and glamorous."
In a preview excerpt from her new book Hear Me Out, Sarah explains the women had planned to meet up at exclusive venue Soho Farmhouse.
She writes in the piece published by Glamour: "I did have my reservations and fears about the reunion get-together, though.
"It was going to be the first time we'd all seen one another in about eight years. That in itself was nerve wracking-enough, but the fact that I felt and looked the way I did made it worse."
Sarah described how "going through cancer is bad enough" without the side effects of the treatment which "can be as difficult to deal with."
"The steroids I'd been taking made me look bloated and I'd lost my eyelashes due to chemo," she continued.
"As the time for the reunion drew closer, I was picturing them all turning up looking fabulous and glamorous, while I looked like I did. Not myself. Not my best."
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
While she knew her friends wouldn't "be judgemental", it was tough for her to let them see her due to their former "glamorous" band appearance.
Sarah ended up meeting with the bandmates, and enjoyed a weekend reminiscing over their Girls Aloud memories.
Her new book, which is released on March 18, details how the star turned down radiotherapy when her breast cancer spread to form a second tumour.
“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," she details in the autobiography.
“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.”
She recently told the Times magazine that she is grateful just to wake up every day because she now realises just how precious life is.
“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," she wrote.
Sarah admitted she does not know exactly how long she has left — and does not want to know. She was told by doctors that last Christmas would “probably” be her last.
Sarah 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.”
The singer decided to write Hear Me Out to urge other women to get checked over before it is too late.
Sarah shared her heartbreaking cancer news with the world on August 26, and was thought to have been diagnosed earlier last year.
Sarah underwent a round of chemotherapy before having a mastectomy, having part of her affected breast removed.
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