'My response was anger': Former Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell reveals how it felt to be told she had advanced lung cancer but says she WILL beat the disease in first interview since she was diagnosed
- Leah Bracknell, 52, was diagnosed with lung cancer just five weeks ago
- She revealed 'her first response was anger' when she was told the news
- The actress, who starred in Emmerdale, remains positive about her battle
Former Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell today revealed she 'responded with anger' when she was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Bracknell, who played Zoe Tate in the ITV soap for 16 years until 2005, was given the news five weeks ago, just days after she first started feeling short of breath.
She is now preparing to undergo cutting-edge treatment in Germany after an online donations page hit its £50,000 within days of its launch.
The actress, 52, spoke with searing honestly about her battle with the disease, bravely saying: 'Where there is a will, there is a way'.
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Bracknell, 52, who played Zoe Tate in the ITV soap for 16 years until 2005, spoke with searing honesty about her battle with the disease on This Morning today
Bracknell, who played Zoe Tate in the ITV soap for 16 years until 2005, was given the news five weeks ago, just days after she first started feeling short of breath
Leah Bracknell, who played Zoe Tate in Emmerdale, was diagnosed with cancer five weeks ago
Bracknell, who is a vegetarian and works as a yoga instructor, said the diagnosis came 'out of the blue'.
Despite smoking decades ago, Bracknell said she was 'reasonably fit for her age'.
She said: 'The lung cancer was quite a shock. 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. And within about three days everything swelled. That all happened over four maybe five days.'
Doctors carried out a series of tests, initially believing the problem was related to her heart. Ten days later she was told she had advanced lung cancer.
She said: 'My response was anger. Rather than feeling 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".'
She added: 'We are all going to die. Nobody knows when. It's about taking control as much as you can of the situation.'
Leah Bracknell at The British Soap Awards in 2006 (left) and her partner Jez Hughes (right)
In the hours after the diagnosis she and her partner, Jez Hughes, went for a walk around a bird sanctuary. 'We had a really nice time,' she added.
The couple then began in earnest to research treatment options.
This led to the discovery of the 'cutting edge treatments' at a clinic in Germany which aren't yet available on the NHS, outside of clinical trials.
In a bid to send Bracknell for treatment, Mr Hughes launched a page on appeal website gofundme.com, hoping to raise £50,000.
Friends, family and kind strangers were quick to donate, rapidly inching the total towards the target. Within just five days, the couple had the £50,000 they needed.
Effie Harrison, played by Phillipa Peak, reveals her feelings for Zoe Tate (Leah Bracknell) in this Emmerdale scene (left); Leah also playing Zoe in the soap (right)
Leah's Emmerdale character was the first lesbian to come out in a British soap (Leah Bracknell pictured in 2004)
Leah as Zoe Tate with Charity Dingle, played by Emma Atkins, in a 2001 episode of Emmerdale
Speaking to Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield today, Bracknell said: 'We actually didn’t know it was going to go public at all… We thought, naively perhaps, that friends and family [would donate], so it’s been such a strange few days with all the news coming out.'
In a statement this week she said: 'I really did not expect or feel deserving of such interest and kindness.
LEAH BRACKNELL'S TV CAREER INCLUDED LANDMARK LESBIAN ROLE
Judge John Dreed - 2007
The Royal Today - 2008
Casualty 1907 (mini series) - 2008
A Touch of Frost - 2010
Doctors - 2007-11
DCI Banks - 2011
'And, I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for all the donations, the messages of encouragement, and for sharing the campaign.
'I feel extremely blessed. We did not expect to raise anywhere near that amount, and certainly not in such a short space of time.'
The initial target has now been reached but the couple will continue with the campaign as more treatment might be needed.
And Bracknell said she remains positive about her future.
When asked by Schofield whether she felt under pressure to start treatment soon, she said: 'One doesn't ask "and how long do you think I have got?" I don't want to be boxed in... Where there is a will there is a way. But I do need to crack on'.
She added: 'I’m terribly optimistic. I don’t see any other way to be. 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.'
Rachel Ambler as Emma Nightingale and Leah Bracknell as Zoe Tate in Emmerdale
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