‘As the World Turns' ending after 54 years

By Ashley Morrison

NEW YORK (CBS) - The world stops turning Friday afternoon. TV's longest running soap opera is going off the air. One of "As the World Turns" leading ladies talks about leaving the show after more than three decades.

Viewers were first introduced to the Hughes family in 1956, and they've been   following its ups and downs ever since.

Actress Colleen Zenk  has been in the thick of all those twists and turns since 1978.  Millions got to know her as Barbara Ryan over the next three decades and she got to know her TV family... like her own family.

"They become a part of your world and it was the most difficult thing of letting go of Barbara Ryan was letting go of my "As The World Turns" family.

Colleen relied on her family when she battled tongue cancer three years ago. She convinced her producers to raise awareness about the disease through her character.

"I was diagnosed with this and went through what I went through in order to get the word out" said Zenk.

Now that she is closing this long chapter of her life, Colleen feels like she's leaving her fans in the lurch.

"Everything that they've been through, the craziness, the tears, the laughter, the marriages, the divorces and the affairs… it's going to be very difficult."

But, Zenk says the last show won't let her fans down.

"I just wept when I read it. It's saying goodbye."

But Zenk says there is life after Oakdale... she is working on a one woman show and she's hoping to make it back to Broadway.

Soap operas have been struggling to hold onto their audiences. Guiding Light went off the air last year.

If you are hosting or attending a viewing party for the final episode of  "As the World Turns" send us an email at news@hawaiinewsnow.com.