Former Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell has spoken out about her battle with terminal lung cancer, commenting that she’s trying to stay positive about the future:
“I’m terribly optimistic. I don’t see any other way to be,” said the actress. “Of course I have moments where the reality hits. It’s more about what you’re leaving behind that is more difficult. We are all going to go somewhere glorious afterwards, let’s hope. But no, I remain optimistic.”
Bracknell, who played Zoe Tate on the ITV soap between 1989 and 2005, was revealed last week to have been diagnosed with the disease and was hoping to raise £50,000 for specialist treatment in Germany not available on the NHS.
The funds were raised in the space in five days and commenting today on This Morning about the public’s response, Bracknell said: “It was a long time ago that I was in Emmerdale. I’m completely staggered that people have even read about it.
“People only go this route when they really have to. Nobody wants to ask for money. It’s a big decision whoever you are. And I’m one of lots of people It’s beautiful reading those messages when someone has made a donation.”
On her reaction to being told by doctors of the cancer diagnosis, she said: “My response was anger. Rather than feeling sad, which came later. But I think, in a way that was quite good, because it gave me a ‘right, I’m going to get on with this now’ because this is still my life. So it’s still about taking control, as much as you can, of the situation.
She added: “My partner [Jez Hughes] and I were at the hospital and I said, ‘we could sit here just crying and worrying’ and I said ‘let’s just go out, it’s a really nice day’, and we went to a bird sanctuary and wildlife thing and just had a really nice time.”
Bracknell also talked about having stopped smoking years ago, the healthy lifestyle she leads and the symptoms that caused her initial concern:
“I haven’t smoked for decades and decades and decades and it came honestly came out of the blue. I’ve been teaching yoga for a few years full time, I’m pretty much vegetarian, I don’t drink that much and I was reasonably fit for my age. But I literally started to feel a little bit breathless that I thought was a bit of stress or whatever.
“And it got worse – I could get to where you [referring to Phil and Holly] are sitting before feeling like I had climbed a mountain. And within about three days everything swelled.”
Finishing by expressing her gratitude to viewers and for the chance to appear on the show, Bracknell said: “Thank you for giving me this opportunity and thank you everybody. It’s really touched us all.”
You can visit our dedicated Emmerdale page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.