Jackie Collins avoided her doctor for two years after she first discovered a lump on her breast.
The 77-year-old author, who died last weekend after secretly battling stage-four breast cancer since 2009, admitted she convinced herself she was healthy at the time and avoided a diagnosis because she was "completely doctor-phobic."
Speaking just five days before her death, the best-selling writer said: "I thought, 'I'm not dealing with this,' because in my mind I decided it was benign. I've had to deal with losing my mother (to breast cancer), my husband (prostate cancer) and my fiancé (lung cancer) and I did not want to put pressure on everybody in the family. So I happily, happily went day by day."
But Jackie urged other women not to take the same chances with their health.
She told PEOPLE magazine: "Women should get checkups because it really helps to get diagnosed early. I know we're all told to do it, but some of us are too stupid, and I was one of them.
"That was my choice and maybe it was a foolish one, but it was my choice. Now I want to tell people it shouldn't be their choice."