Actress Liz Dawn, who plays Vera Duckworth in ITV soap Coronation Street, is suffering from the incurable lung disease emphysema.
Coronation Street actress Liz Dawn used to be a heavy smoker
Dawn, 65, was diagnosed 18 months ago and has just signed a new one-year contract with the soap. She told the Sunday Mirror: "I'm doing really well."
The condition, known as a smoker's disease, causes progressive damage to the lungs and can eventually kill.
Dawn, who used to be a heavy smoker, has been in the show for 30 years.
"I am just grateful that I have found a fantastic specialist," she told the newspaper.
"He has worked out medication that means I can carry on doing what I love, which is being a mum and a grandma and working on Coronation Street."
A spokesperson for the show said Dawn was still able to meet the demands of filming the soap.
"Liz is a highly valued and popular member of the cast," she said. "She continues to work as hard as ever.
"She loves her job and throughout her health problems, she has wanted to carry on working."
Dawn was made an MBE for services to charity in 2000 after raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for hospitals in the Manchester and Leeds area.
US chat show host Johnny Carson and British actress Pat Coombs also suffered from emphysema.
The disease usually affects older people and is generally the result of long-term damage to the lungs, such as a lifetime of smoking.
The disease can start as mild breathlessness but over time can leave sufferers struggling to breathe and reliant on oxygen.