Sarah Harding’s Tragic Passing Reminds Us To Retire The Phrase ‘Lose The Battle With Cancer’

by : Emily Brown on : 05 Sep 2021 15:44
Sarah Harding's Tragic Passing Reminds Us To Retire The Phrase 'Lose The Battle With Cancer'PA Images

The tragic death of Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding has prompted social media users to speak up about why the phrase ‘lost the battle with cancer’ can be considered inappropriate. 

Harding’s mother Marie shared the news of her daughter’s passing with a post on Instagram today, September 5, explaining the singer ‘slipped away peacefully’ at the age of 39 after she announced she had been diagnosed with breast cancer last year.


Marie herself described the time following Harding’s diagnosis as a ‘battle’, explaining that she ‘fought so strongly from her diagnosis until her last day’, though in the wake of the news some people have noted that describing passing away from cancer as ‘losing the battle’ can have negative implications.

Sarah Harding (PA Images)PA Images

Writer Rose Stokes responded to reports of Harding’s death to argue that the singer did not ‘lose her battle with cancer’, and in turn, those who survive the disease do not ‘win’.

She wrote: ‘Headlines like this are far too simplistic and ignore the fact that some people can’t survive this awful disease and that’s not through any fault of their own.’


Another Twitter user shared a similar sentiment, writing: ‘Frustrates me when people say “sadly lost his/her battle with cancer” like there is a choice and dying is somehow failing… It’s not a game. It’s awful. RIP Sarah Harding.’

A third commented: ‘The death of Sarah Harding is so very sad. But could people, especially journalists, please stop referring to cancer and other illnesses as “battles” that are won and lost? Doing so infers that “losing the battle” indicates fault, failure or weakness.’


Harding revealed earlier this year that a doctor had told her she would likely not live to see another Christmas following her diagnosis, with an extract from her memoir Hear Me Out, published in The Times, reading: ‘In December my doctor told me that the upcoming Christmas would probably be my last.’

The singer is said to have told her doctor she did not want an exact prognosis, instead saying she wanted ‘comfort’ and to be ‘pain free’.

Per BBC News, she added that she was ‘trying to live and enjoy every second of [her] life, however long it might be.’


In her statement today, Harding’s mother wrote that she knew her daughter would not ‘want to be remembered for her fight against this terrible disease’, writing: ‘she was a bright shining star and I hope that’s how she can be remembered instead.’

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Macmillan’s Cancer Support Line on 0808 808 00 00, 8am–8pm seven days a week

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University and went on to contribute to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming Senior Journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news, trending stories and longer form features.

Topics: Celebrity, Cancer, no-article-matching