Former Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell 'optimistic' over cancer fight
Former Emmerdale actress Leah Bracknell has said she is "terribly optimistic" after fans raised enough money to fund cutting edge treatment for her terminal lung cancer.
Speaking on ITV's This Morning, Mrs Bracknell, 52, said she was "completely staggered" when contributors around the country donated well over the £55,000 needed for the treatment at a German clinic in less than a week.
The mother-of-two, whose real name is Alison, started the gofundme.com campaign with her partner Jez Hughes after discovering that her UK treatment was to become palliative.
She told presenters: "My response was anger."
But the yoga instructor said her outlook changed as she continued her spiritual practises.
She said: "It's still my life and it's about taking control as much as you can of the situation.
"I'm terribly optimistic because I don't see any other way to be."
But she added that "there are moments when the reality sinks in".
She said she was "staggered" by the response to her campaign and had received "interesting" support from cancer professionals, which she now hopes to share with other patients.
"Mindfulness is a great way to start, if you can keep your mind positive," she said. "Doctors say that is so powerful for healing.
"I'm thinking of starting a blog as I have heard from so many people and it's interesting the advice that keeps cropping up. Even something simple like changing nutrition could be helpful for some people."
Recounting the moment last December when she first knew something was wrong, Ms Bracknell told the show how she was rushed to A&E, and at first it was thought she had a heart problem.
But further tests led to her cancer diagnosis.
She said: " I literally started to feel a little bit breathless and it got worse. I literally couldn't get up the stairs. Then everything swirled.
"I had been running around happy as Larry and felt fine.
"I haven't smoked in decades. I'm pretty much vegetarian and I don't drink that much. It came completely out of the blue."
Now, she said, she is keen to "crack on" with the treatment, which she discovered after extensive research and isn't available on the NHS.
"The NHS are doing fabulous work and there are some clinical trials available," she said.
Speaking to other cancer patients in a similar situation she said: "You've got to be pro-active, research and ask questions."
Thanking those who donated to her campaign, she added: " I also want to stress that I am one person. I only went down this route because I really had to, but I am one of lots of people (in a similar situation).
"If you don't want to give to my page but have £5 to spare, find another page and see if there is a story that resonates."