We were diagnosed with advanced breast cancer like Sarah Harding but we carried on living – The Sun

Posted: August 29, 2020 at 8:54 pm

GIRLS Aloud singer Sarah Harding revealed this week that she has advanced breast cancer at the age of just 38.

Her shocking diagnosis led to an outpouring of support from fans and stars, including former bandmates Cheryl, 37, Nadine Coyle, 35, Kimberley Walsh, 38, and Nicola Roberts, 34.


Sarah shared her diagnosis on social media, saying she is doing her best to keep positive.

And she has good reason. Three women who were once given the exact same news as Sarah have told us how they have carried on living.

They have also backed our Get Checked breast cancer campaign and urged women - of any age - who are worried they may have the disease to see their doctors.

Here, they reveal the battles they faced and overcame.

FORMER city worker Louisa Rasmussen was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer at 34 - but says she is "living with" the disease and believes Sarah can do the same.

A year after Louisa gave up a high-flying, stressful career to become a yoga teacher she discovered she had incurable breast cancer and eight secondary tumours in her liver.


Today Louisa, now 38, who lives with boyfriend James Ralph, 37, in London runs Breathe, Balance, Be - which helps other cancer victims to meditate.

In 2013 Louisa found a lump on her left breast and after a biopsy it was found to be benign.

But then in 2017 a second lump appeared this time on her right side - but she didnt get it checked for nine months.

She said: I put it down to monthly changes in my cycle initially. I have no idea why I waited that long. A part of me was scared.


A biopsy confirmed it was oestrogen positive breast cancer. Then a full body scan to start planning treatments confirmed I had multiple metastases in my liver.

There were eight tumours in all incurable secondary breast cancer.

Being told was like an out of body experience. I had a sense of disbelief, shock. I needed six cycles of combination chemotherapy.

I was hoping I might be able to have my eggs frozen but because it has already spread they wanted to get me on treatment asap.


Its a hell of a lot to take in. You are still processing and grieving for that years on.

During treatment I wore the cold cap which I hated. I lost 70 percent of my hair but it was awful when it came out in the shower in clumps.

Your life stops and there were days I was too ill to get up. Its tough.

The weekend after my chemotherapy finished I trained as a Yoga Nidra teacher and started breath work so I could guide others into relaxation and better breathing which I think helps when you have cancer.


I have never asked for my prognosis and I dont want to know.

I feel very good and very bloody lucky. Im living with secondary, incurable breast cancer. And living is key.

So is early detection. I did have some 'what ifs?' after what happened to me. I used to ask myself what if it was caught earlier, why did I wait so long?

But my message is simple: dont be scared, take control, it could be nothing, but you must get checked.


CATHERINE Priestley, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer Now said: Secondary breast cancer - also referred to as advanced, metastatic or stage four - is when breast cancer cells spread from the breast to other parts of the body, most commonly the liver, lungs, bones, or brain. At this point, while it can be treated and managed, it is no longer curable.

The aim of treatment is to control the cancer, relieve any symptoms, and maintain health, wellbeing, and a good quality of life for as long as possible. Treatment can include chemotherapy, hormone therapies and targeted therapies.

Everyones diagnosis is different, but what we do know is that as treatments have improved, more and more people are living longer after a secondary breast cancer diagnosis.

"Accessing the right support and treatment can help the thousands of people living with the disease in the UK continue normal life as much as possible so we must ensure that everyone gets the care they need."

EMMA Gittens is 40, separated, and lives in Hereford with her sons Noah, nine, and Freddie, seven. She was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in October 2017, at the age of 37.

In September last year, doctors discovered it had spread to her pancreas and she was told it was incurable.


She says she sees her condition as a "chronic illness rather than a death sentence".

Emma, an HR administrator, said: It was such a shock when I was diagnosed.

I never expected to have cancer at such a young age. After I found the tumour in my right breast I had chemotherapy and surgery and doctors said that it hadnt spread.

But then in September last year they found that it had, to my pancreas and ovaries and at that stage it was diagnosed as incurable.


Id had a thickening of the breast tissue which was quite painful for about 12 months before I was diagnosed. I went to see the GP but they said it was hormonal and not to worry.

"Then when a lump eventually appeared a year later, I went back to the GP and was referred to the breast clinic straight away.

"I wish Id pushed for more investigations at the time that I had the pain - I dont know if it was linked, but if it had been looked into it could have been caught earlier and made a difference to me.

I fully back the Sun on Sunday's campaign - I think getting to the doctors and getting checked out straight away is so important.

I never expected to have cancer at such a young age.

"I have two sons and I just make the most of every minute with them. During lockdown they have been at home with me for six months, and weve done loads of things together which has been lovely.

"I have weekly chemotherapy now at the hospital and its keeping me stable. I feel really healthy - I go to spinning classes at the gym once a week. I see it as a chronic illness rather than a death sentence.


"When I was first diagnosed I found that talking to other women my age who had breast cancer too really helped me get through it.

"It saved me from plunging into deep despair at having such a life threatening illness, and thats what Sarah should do too.

"If Sarah has lots of support like I did, from other women who understand what she is going through, then she will get through it too.

"She needs not to treat it like a death sentence - like I dont - and just take each day at a time.


Book a GP check

WOMEN who fear they may have breast cancer must book a GP appointment, a health minister has said.

Jo Churchill, who beat the disease twice, said seeing your doctor as soon as possible will mean a better chance of survival.

Ms Churchill said: I heard Sarah Harding bravely sharing the difficult news about the progress of her cancer this week and I wish her the very best with her treatment.

As someone who has had breast cancer twice, I cannot stress enough the importance of going to see your GP.

Catching any cancer early means a higher chance of successful treatment.

Ms Churchill is supporting our campaign Get Checked for women to get their breasts looked at early.

It is backed by Breast Cancer Now and CoppaFeel! as we ask women to see their GPs if they notice anything suspect.

ZEENAT Khanam is married to husband Ash, 40, and lives in Oldham, Greater Manchester. The couple run their own website clothing company.

Zeenat, 38, was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 32, that had already spread into her lungs and neck too.


She said: Id felt something wasnt right in my breast for a few months. It felt very tight.

"But I was focused on my career, working hard and there wasnt any time to think about anything else.

I should have got checked out and gone to the doctors earlier. I should have taken more notice because I found a lump in my neck about six months later - it had already spread.

A doctor took a biopsy and two days later I got a letter from the hospital telling me I had breast cancer.


It was such a shock. Id never checked my breasts either as I was so young, I never even gave breast cancer a second thought. I didnt think I needed to.

More than anything I wish that Id listened to my body earlier - and Id tell any other young woman to check themselves regularly and not ignore any changes.

Breast cancer can happen at a young age - as Sarah Harding knows. But early detection is vital.

"Because of the treatment I had, I havent been able to have children either, which has been heartbreaking for me.


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Doctors discovered another lump in my right breast in 2017, and Ive had chemotherapy treatment for it. I have treatment every three weeks, and its keeping the cancer from spreading, which is good.

"Sarah will need a lot of support - the cancer support group Macmillan helped me so much.

"Sarah needs to know that although her cancer has spread, she will get through it. I am still here to prove that.

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 its 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.

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We were diagnosed with advanced breast cancer like Sarah Harding but we carried on living - The Sun

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