Coronation Street star Sally Whittaker has revealed she had been fighting breast cancer - just like her screen character.
The 46 year old, who plays Sally Webster in the ITV soap, was diagnosed with the disease last year as she researched the illness for her TV role.
Despite the blow, the mother of three carried on acting and filmed the show's poignant Christmas Day scenes when she told cheating husband Kevin about her news.
Miss Whittaker has opened her heart to Hello! magazine, and is pictured in the latest edition shorn of her familiar blonde locks.
She told about the moment she received her diagnosis in October with her screenwriter husband Tim Dynevor - and immediately thought of her children.
"We got in the car and I cried like I'd never cried before in my life," the actress told the magazine.
Around eight million viewers tuned in to see her character drop the disease bombshell on Kevin, played by Michael Le Vell. But while Sally had a successful lumpectomy, Miss Whittaker has endured months of radiotherapy.
She credits her children - Phoebe, 15, Sam, 13, and six-year-old Hattie - with helping her through the worst.
Miss Whittaker also credited her Coronation Street plot with helping to save her life. "If I had not been researching this storyline, I may not have discovered the lump in my breast and had it looked at so quickly," she said.
Her hair is staring to grow back, and she is returning to work next month.