We originally learned of Sarah’s cancer diagnosis during conversations we were having about how to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Girls Aloud.
We as a five had gone through so much life together. It is impossible to describe the situations, circumstances and life experiences we shared over those years. We lived, breathed and shaped one another in so many ways. It can only end up in a family type dynamic.
Sarah was the sparky one of our group. She was full of the spark of life and loved what we did. We all had different relationships and leaned on each at different times for different reasons over the years. I always felt like a big sister to Sarah, even though she was the older one. She would come to me for advice, or speak to me in confidence to share secrets.
When we learned that she was sick I felt stumped. I had always thought I had been or could be helpful in some way. There was always a solution to a perceived issue that meant it would eventually work out when we came together. We had managed to get through so many sticky situations over the years. But now I had a deep and overwhelming feeling of complete helplessness.
I was honest with Sarah about my feelings and she understood and said she felt the same. I jumped into what I knew I could do, which was all very surface-level stuff… things like care packages, with comfort and luxury items I knew she would like and enjoy. But still. I didn’t feel helpful, I just felt numb.
In the days leading up to the last time we would meet, Sarah came to spend a few days with me. She spoke so highly of and with such gratitude for those who had helped her through her medical journey. And of how much comfort they had brought her, and moments of joy. She was so grateful!
I asked her over and over again how we could help. Was there anything she truly wanted or needed? Finally she said to me: “I would love you to create an evening, a gala of some kind for me. If I am here and can attend I will be able to thank those who have helped me through all of this, and pay that forward in a way that will help others when I’m gone.”
Unfortunately that wasn’t to be. Eight weeks later, Sarah passed.
The rest of Girls Aloud and I took up the baton soon after, rallying together to make sure we made Sarah’s last wish come true. I feel a great deal of responsibility to make it what she wanted and help create and provide help for others moving forward.
Our aim is to fund a study headed up by Sarah’s oncologist, which will look at why so many women are suffering this terrible ordeal so young, without any previous genetic markers. This vital understanding would not only help but potentially prevent others like Sarah from suffering the torment she did.
I would like to move forward by remembering Sarah before her illness. Although memories of that time do exist and are hard to shake, they hold no weight against the light she so brightly shone in the years beforehand. I have many, many more of those years to hold onto, and that is my intention. Her fun, bubbly side, her close-to-the-edge risky side, and her deeply soft and vulnerable side are some of the intricacies that made up Sarah in all of her glory.
In the last few days spent with her, we got to laugh, cry, reminisce, cook, watch spiritual programmes (our shared love) and pray together. Those are the parts I will keep in my heart as I let the illness recede into the background. Now I want to commemorate her by helping to give thanks to those who kept her going in her darkest of days and nights.
The darkest nights create the brightest stars.
Taken from the article in Vogue which you can read HERE