Leah Bracknell's cancer was missed by four doctors until the ex-Emmerdale star was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery, she revealed before her death.
Actress Leah, who died last month at the age of 55, was finally diagnosed with terminal lung cancer when she became so ill she needed life-saving treatment.
In the last social media post before her death, Leah explained how her cancer wasn't picked up sooner, despite visiting four doctors with her symptoms.
Highlighting the impact of staff shortages at the NHS, she said: "My own experience, despite contact with four GPs, did not pick up on the severity of the situation and meant I was rushed to hospital where a life saving operation had to be performed.
"I was extremely lucky. I had not shown ANY of the classic symptoms associated with lung cancer. And due to the stigma surrounding smoking and cancer I did not fit the statistical profile of someone with lung cancer.
"So medical professionals are missing the bigger picture especially as up to 15% of lung cancers are diagnosed in NON smoker. Often very young."
In September, just days before her death, Leah raised awareness for a Cancer Research and NHS campaign, urging people to support the organisations in order to provide life-saving services to diagnose and treat cancer.
My own experience, despite contact with four GPs, did not pick up on the severity of the situation.
She posted on her Instagram and Twitter pages: "I'm standing #shouldertoshoulder with the NHS and @CR_UK to tackle staff shortages and ensure everyone diagnosed with cancer is given the best chance of survival.
"Over 110,000 people are diagnosed too late for meaningful treatment for their cancer in the UK."
She continued: "Staff shortages and inadequate diagnostic training is costing lives. [...] Please support this vital call for improving services for the sake of your loved ones and yourselves."
Her manager announced the sad news of her death yesterday (October 16), explaining: "It is with the deepest sadness that Leah Bracknell's family confirm that Leah passed away in September, three years after her diagnosis with stage four lung cancer.
"They would like to thank all the public for their support and generosity which contributed to the extension and quality of her life over the past three years."
She went on: "Leah continued to embrace life and faced her illness with positivity. Many aspects of her journey can be found on her blog.
"Leah was best known and much loved as Zoe Tate in Emmerdale.
"She also had roles in Judge John Deed, A Touch of Frost, The Royal Today and DCI Banks to name just a few, as well as numerous appearances on stage and in pantomime.
"As well as acting, Leah was also an accomplished yoga teacher and shamanic healer.
"Leah had an energy and enthusiasm for life, a kind heart and much love to give to those around her.
"Her family have asked for privacy at this very sad time."
Leah starred in the soap as Zoe Tate from 1993 to 2005 and was part of the Tate family.
Paying tribute, John Whiston, MD of Continuing Drama and Head of ITV in the North, said: "Everyone on Emmerdale is very sad to hear of the death of Leah Bracknell.
"Leah was a hugely popular member of the Emmerdale cast for over 16 years.
"During that time she featured in some of the show's most high profile and explosive plots and always delivered a pitch perfect performance.
"Zoe Tate was one of soap's first lesbian characters and Leah made sure the character was both exciting and credible.
"Leah herself was a very generous and caring colleague, much loved by cast and crew alike."
Leave your tributes for Leah Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.