Sally Webster in hospital in a January episode of Coronation Street
Coronation Street star Sally Whittaker has revealed she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time her TV character was battling the disease.
"If I had not been researching this storyline I may not have discovered the lump in my breast," said Whittaker, 46.
Whittaker returns to work in June following six months of treatment.
Her character, Sally Webster, was seen telling husband Kevin she had to undergo breast cancer treatment in last year's Christmas Day episode.
The actress has had to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy and decided to shave her hair off before it began to fall out.
"As a result of the early diagnosis my treatment has been very successful... this storyline could very well have saved my life," she said.
A Coronation Street press officer said: "We remain eternally grateful that Sally is now well on the road to recovery."
Whittaker continued to film scenes as she began her treatment but the soap's storyline was changed to allow her time off. Her absence from screen was explained by sending her character to her sister's to recuperate.
She will now begin raising awareness of breast cancer research working with The Genesis Appeal - a charity focused on the prevention of breast cancer - and The Christie Hospital in Manchester.
"This has been a very emotional journey for me as it is for every woman going through this situation," Whittaker said.
She thanked her husband, children, doctors and nurses involved in her treatment and the media for allowing her to recover in private.
Whittaker is married to scriptwriter Tim Dynevor and has three children, Phoebe, Sam and Hattie.
She also said she will be using her married name - Sally Dynevor - when she returns to work.
"It feels right to use my family name for work now, after everything we have been through we have been brought even closer as a family," she said.