New York Times bestseller Jackie Collins passed away yesterday, Saturday, Sept. 19, at the age of 77 after privately battling breast cancer for six-and-a-half years.
“It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the death of our beautiful, dynamic and one of a kind mother, Jackie Collins, who died of breast cancer today,” the Collins family told E! News on the day of her passing. “She lived a wonderfully full life and was adored by her family, friends and the millions of readers who she has been entertaining for over four decades.”
Throughout her career, Collins wrote 32 books, all of them landing on the New York Times’ bestseller list. “She was a true inspiration, a trail blazer for women in fiction and a creative force. She will live on through her characters but we already miss her beyond words,” the statement continued.
According to PEOPLE, who first broke the news, the novelist was diagnosed six-and-a-half years ago with stage 4 breast cancer, an illness she confided in “primarily” with her daughters Tracy, Tiffany and Rory.
Sister and best friend actress Joan Collins didn’t even know her sister had been battling cancer. “She was my best friend,” a devastated Joan, who only found out about the diagnosis about two weeks ago tells the mag. “I admire how she handled this. She was a wonderful, brave and a beautiful person and I love her.”
During a Sept. 14 interview with PEOPLE, the publication asked why she hadn’t told her sister sooner and asked what her reaction was once telling her. “It would have really affected her. I just felt she didn’t need it in her life. She’s very positive and very social but I’m not sure how strong she is, so I didn’t want to burden her with it,” was her reasoning for keeping mum on the subject. But, once she told her, “She was very shocked. She had no idea. But she was great. We were emotional.”
Since being diagnosed and receiving treatment, including a lumpectomy and radiation, the prolific author continued to write. During this time period she wrote five more novels, her last being The Santangelos, which received rave reviews.
There will be two private services held — one in the United States and one in the United Kingdom. In lieu of flowers, the Collins family asks you donate to the U.S.’s Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Organization or the U.K.’s Penny Brohn Cancer Care.
[Image via PEOPLE]