Jackie Collins refused to let her terminal cancer diagnosis affect her life.

Jackie Collins

Jackie Collins

The 77-year-old author passed away over the weekend after a secret six-year battle with breast cancer but never succumbed to self-pity and insisted she wanted to be an inspiration to people in similar circumstances.

Speaking just five days before she died, Jackie told PEOPLE magazine: "I certainly don't wake up in the morning and think, 'Oh, I have terminal cancer,' because I don't. I have a chronic disease. We're all going to go at some time. I want people to see me as an example of strength - and doing things my way."

And Jackie insisted that a positive attitude helped her to cope.

She said: "Your mind controls your body, so you must. If you have a positive attitude, you can conquer anything.

"That's what you do. It's just been an incredible journey."

Jackie was diagnosed after having a full body scan for an unexplained limp but by the time she found out, her cancer had spread.

She revealed her treatment included "a lumpectomy, radiation and various drug combinations".