Tony Audenshaw's wife battled pancreatic cancer whilst his on-screen spouse fought a brain tumour.
The 'Emmerdale' star - who plays Bob Hope in the ITV soap - has revealed how his wife Ruth battled with the disease until her untimely death at the age of 43 in April this year.
Ruth was hoping to get life-saving surgery in Germany after doctors here in the UK said they were unable to operate as the tumour was wrapped around an artery.
However, Ruth was dealt another blow when she found out the cancer had spread to her liver.
Tony said: "The surgeon said, 'Yes, I can do it, this is your chance'. The operation sounded horrendous to me, but Ruth said, 'I want it done'. She might die on the table, but from her point of view it was worth it because it gave her a chance ...
"They told us the cancer had spread to her liver and she had multiple tumours. It was terminal. But Ruth was incredible. She said, 'I've not got long left. I'm going to enjoy my life while I can'. We treated those last months like our retirement."
And whilst Ruth "knew it was too late" for her, she did all she could to help others and donated some of her cells to be used in research ahead of her untimely passing.
He added to the Daily Mirror newspaper: "She knew it was too late for her, but she wanted to help others. Two weeks before she died she had some of her cells harvested to be used in research trials. They might be pivotal in some kind of breakthrough. I have to hope so.
"That's what Ruth was all about. She was a brilliant person. She was so brave. It's really unfair that she's gone, but my life was enriched so much by spending 24 years with her."