Shortland Street star Ngahuia Piripi has spoken out about her brush with breast cancer exclusively to Woman's Day.
The 27-year-old actress - who plays doctor Esther Samuels on the long-running soap - has spent the year secretly in and out of hospital trying to diagnose the lump she found on her right breast. She's already had one surgery to remove it, leaving her with a scare across her breast and soon she will have to go under the knife again.
The Maori beauty has kept the news a secret from her colleagues and this is the first time she has talked about it publicly.
While Ngahuia is "still going through it" and has yet to be given the all clear, she felt she needed to share her story to spread awareness and encourage others to be proactive about checking themselves for lumps.
"I still haven't told many people, but I wanted Shortland Street fans to see that what happened to Sass on the show actually happens in real life," she says referring to co-star Lucy Lovegrove's character Sass Connelly's on-screen cancer scare. "It's not fake or just a storyline - it can really happen."
To read Ngahuia's full emotional story, check out this week's issue of Woman's Day, on sale now.