Sarah Harding, who rose to fame as a member of the pop group Girls Aloud, has died after battling cancer. She was 39.
Harding's mother, Marie, announced the sad news on the singer's Instagram page on Sunday, Sept. 5.
"It's with deep heartbreak that today I'm sharing the news that my beautiful daughter Sarah has sadly passed away," she wrote. "Many of you will know of Sarah's battle with cancer and that she fought so strongly from her diagnosis until her last day. She slipped away peacefully this morning."
Her mother continued, "I'd like to thank everyone for their kind support over the past year. It meant the world to Sarah and it gave her great strength and comfort to know she was loved. I know she won't want to be remembered for her fight against this terrible disease — she was a bright shining star and I hope that's how she can be remembered instead."
Harding was 20 years old when she was selected to join Girls Aloud, along with Cheryl (then known as Cheryl Cole), Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh, on the British reality show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002. Harding was often considered the rock star of the group.
Spice Girls singer Geri Halliwell Horner, one of the series' judges, paid tribute to her following news of her death.
"Rest in peace, Sarah Harding," she tweeted. "You'll be remembered for the light and joy you brought to the world. X"
Girls Aloud became famous mostly in the United Kingdom and Ireland with hit singles such as "Sound of the Underground," "Something Kinda Ooooh," "The Promise," "Call the Shots" and a cover of The Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You."The group also had their own reality show, "Girls Aloud: Off the Record."
The band went on hiatus in 2009 before reuniting in 2012 for their 10th anniversary. They released new music and went on tour before disbanding in 2013.
In addition to maintaining a music career, Harding also tried her hand at acting, appearing in small films and in a recurring role on the soap opera "Coronation Street" in 2015. Harding returned to reality TV a year later, appearing on the series The Jump. In 2017, she won "Celebrity Big Brother."
"So so sad to hear about Harding," tweeted show host Davina McCall. "A star from the get go , hugely fun and outgoing yet also somehow fragile...love to her family and friends #SarahHarding."
In August 2020, Harding announced on Instagram that she was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier in the year and that it had spread to other parts of her body. She added, "I'm currently undergoing weekly chemotherapy sessions and I am fighting as hard as I possibly can."
In her memoir, "Hear Me Out," published this past March, Harding revealed that due to the coronavirus pandemic, she put off going to the doctor when her symptoms — breast pain — first began. According to an excerpt published by The Times, she wrote that amid her treatment, she contracted sepsis, was put into an induced coma for almost two weeks, and later underwent a mastectomy. Later, an MRI revealed that her cancer had spread. Harding said that in December 2020, her doctor told her that the upcoming Christmas would probably be her last.
The singer said she initially did not want to speak out about her diagnosis, also hoped that she could help others. "There had been so much reporting on the news about people missing out on check-ups during Covid lockdown," she wrote in her memoir. "People who had left a cancer diagnosis until it might be too late. Maybe if I spoke out, as a public figure, a celebrity, it could help get the message across how important it is to get checked out if you have concerns."