The group may have split in 2013 but their bond stayed strong – and after the devastating news of Sarah‘s breast cancer diagnosis, her Girls Aloud bandmates rallied round to offer 24-hour support.

As they did all they could to help her in her brave fight, they opened up on their pain at knowing they were losing her and shared their fond memories of the “party girl of the band” – and how she had touched all of their lives.

Cheryl has talked of how heartbroken she is over losing Sarah, especially as the pair had only recently been making up for lost time after losing touch following the band’s split in 2013.

The singer, 37, revealed in Sarah’s book Hear Me Out that the news of her friend’s illness “destroyed” her.

Looking back on when she and the girls were told of her diagnosis together – apart from Nadine, who was in Ireland – Cheryl shared: “Since that day, she’s been on my brain every waking hour, so much so that I feel like I want to be with her.” In the same extract, the mum-of-one told her fans all she wanted to do was be there for Sarah after having been out of touch.

Cheryl also detailed the time she broke down on the phone to Sarah following some tragic news about her fight. “Mostly, I try to keep my own emotions in check, but on one FaceTime call with her the other day, I couldn’t hold it in any more,” she said.

“She relayed some terrible news she’d had that day, and I lost it and started crying. I tried to move the phone out of the way so she couldn’t see my face but she knew what was happening. The mad thing is, it ended up with Sarah comforting me. ‘Oh God, are you OK, babe?’ she said through her tears. ‘I wish I was there just to give you a hug.’ It was so, so heartbreaking. There was Sarah, going through what she was, and she was more worried about me.”

Kimberley Walsh told OK! about how pleased she was that Sarah opened up about her fight in her memoir.

She said: “I’m really proud of her. I don’t need to explain anything now and it’s nice she’s got her book out and it can all be from her own mouth. It’s been a really tough year and she’s honestly the most amazing woman. I’m so happy with the reaction to the book and how much the fans came on board and downloaded her songs to give her a boost.”

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The 39 year old previously spoke about how the Girls Aloud stars grew closer after Sarah’s diagnosis. She said, “It’s made us be in contact more regularly than we would normally. As much as this is a tough time for us, it’s nice that it’s given us the drive to spend time together.”

And Kimberley added of their bond: “People think some of us are closer than others – and that’s absolutely normal.

“But in terms of friendship it’s so much deeper than that when you’ve gone through those experiences. Sarah knows that. She always did. Hence why us girls will always be there for each other.”

Speaking of the depth of the bond the bandmates shared as they rallied around Sarah, Nadine Coyle told OK!: “When we see each other, it’s like we’ve stepped back in time.

"It’s as if we’ve only seen each other yesterday. It’s such a tough time but all of us have pulled together.”

Sarah revealed in her book that Nadine was the one she turned to for comfort when she received her shock diagnosis, admitting that she was a “mess” after hearing the devastating news.

She said she spent the evening with Nadine, 35, crying and drinking wine.

“Throughout the evening, we had our moments of hysterical laughter followed by tears,” Sarah wrote.

“At one point, Nadine told me in no uncertain terms how much she cared about me. ‘You don’t understand, Sarah. I love you!’”

In her own chapter in Sarah’s book, Nadine revealed she cried every time Sarah spoke during their meet-up with the rest of the band.

“The whole experience was a reminder of just how funny and open she is and how she really doesn’t care. Whatever life throws at her, she’ll go about her business and remain essentially Sarah,” she wrote.

“There was a lot of laughter and honesty, and I found the whole experience very moving. It was probably one of the few times everybody got to see Sarah as she really is. As sad as I felt for what she was going through, I was, in that respect, really happy for her.”

When Nicola Roberts broke her silence after Sarah’s diagnosis, it was to praise her friend for her honesty and bravery. The singer, 35, posted a picture of an article she was referencing on her Instagram and wrote: “Calling her brave isn’t enough. This is so much more than bravery.”

Since then, Nicola has done everything she could to show her support. The singer also posted a pages from Sarah’s book, Hear Me Out, to urge women to get their bodies checked whenever they can. She wrote: “I know many of you have received your copies of @sarahnicoleharding book already but I wanted to share this page for those who she wishes to encourage.”

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