Francesca was one of Sarah Harding’s closest friends. They met when they were both teenagers and worked in a local pub together.

Like many friends, Francesca said she didn’t see Sarah every week. And as Sarah’s career started to take off during her time in the pop group Girls Aloud, she always made time to see Francesca at Christmas.

After Sarah’s breast cancer diagnosis in 2020, she moved back to Alderley Edge in Cheshire, and was referred to The Christie for treatment. Her move meant she was just down the road from Francesca and her family.

Although it was under sad circumstances, Francesca said she now feels happy that Sarah got to enjoy some simple pleasures with her and her 2 little girls. Francesca said Sarah would go walking with her and the kids, and she’d come over and cook and play Super Mario Kart. They also chose her last Christmas tree together, and Francesca said it made some of her last moments with Sarah really special.

Although Francesca said it was hard to see the pain her friend was in, her thoughts were always with Sarah – she was the one who had to live with cancer. As Sarah was only 38 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Francesca said she still had so much life left.

And even though Sarah knew she was unlikely to get better after her cancer had spread, Francesca said she always had an ability to bounce back. She said that as Sarah’s condition started to decline, Sarah really started to struggle but she kept up a positive mental attitude.

Sarah sadly died from breast cancer in September 2021, aged just 39. Francesca struggled with the loss of her close friend, and supporting her 2 girls through it, as they’re so young.

Francesca’s now supporting The Sarah Harding Breast Cancer Appeal. Dr Sacha Howell, an oncologist at The Christie, wants to lead to research to identify young women who are most at risk from breast cancer, and The Sarah Harding Breast Cancer Appeal is raising money for this. Francesca and her husband have already donated to the appeal, and she’s hoping that other people will support the research.

One of Sarah’s last requests was that funds should be raised to support Dr Sacha Howell’s vital breast cancer research. She’d be absolutely over the moon and so proud to think that people like you are getting behind it and supporting her fund with a donation.

Francesca, Christie supporter

“Young women of a certain age shouldn't be going through what Sarah went through. That's probably one of the harder parts, that she still had so much life ahead of her. Research is essential for us to change anything else, moving forward if the evidence is there that we should be testing and we should be looking at younger people, to prevent more people getting cancer and more deaths.
“The fact that [Sarah’s] name is still alive and that she wanted this [research] to happen and it is happening is the best part for me really. Even though she might not be here, she's still on the tip of my tongue all the time. That really sort of shows what sort of person she was and the impact that she had when she was here and is still having to this day.”

Please give to The Sarah Harding Breast Cancer Appeal today and help fund research to find young women at risk of breast cancer and give them the best possible chance of survival.