Thursday 17 October 2019

Ex-Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell ‘fed up’ of living with terminal cancer

The former soap star told of a series of recent setbacks in her life.

Ex-Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell wants to ‘feel normal again’ amid cancer fight (PA Archive/PA)
Ex-Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell wants to ‘feel normal again’ amid cancer fight (PA Archive/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

Former Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell has said she is “fed up” with living with terminal cancer and that she wants to feel “normal again”.

The actress, who played Zoe Tate in the soap for 16 years until 2005, was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal lung cancer in 2016.

In a new post on her blog, Something Beginning with C, Bracknell has told of how she feels “trapped in a cage” due to a number of issues linked to the disease that have impacted her life.

She wrote of her guilt over “having a moan and a whinge” to have her life back, as she understands “there are people out there who are enduring much worse circumstances than I”.

She added: “But that little part of me that is feeling sorry for myself just wants to be seen and heard.

“She wants to jump up and down shouting ‘It’s not fair’, ‘I want my life back’, ‘I want to feel normal again.'”

Bracknell, 54, said that normal to her would mean “not having the state of your health on your mind, or at least lurking around the periphery 24/7” and to have independence, to not have to rely on other people to “complete simple functions that you once took for granted”.

She said she wants to be able to do “simple stuff” with ease again, like driving, walking and breathing, and that she would like to not have to plan her life around hospital appointments.

She described the last time she felt “normal” in October last year, when she visited Devon to see friends before heading to Brittany in France with her husband Jez Hughes.

Recalling the trip, she said, was a “joy, the delight of getting out and about, worries pushed to the back of my mind, and the sheer bliss of normality.”

However, on her return to the UK, she was immediately admitted to hospital in London, before having to be readmitted to another one nearer to her home several days later.

In the blog, Bracknell told of developing more physical issues in her spine due to the cancer, how she had to do “by necessity, absolutely nothing” over the Christmas period.

She then tripped over her washing, a pain that she likened to giving birth, and that she has not “cooked a meal in months, or done the washing, or done any housework, or shopped”.

Bracknell, who is also a yoga teacher, said she recently had a “vision of normality peeking over the horizon” recently, before an abnormality concerning her heart was discovered, putting her cancer treatment on hold.

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Leah Bracknell played Zoe Tate in Emmerdale for 16 years (ITV/PA)

The TV star said she set herself the challenge of sharing her experiences in order to not feel alone in her journey, and to help others.

“It is an unexpectedly cathartic process,” she wrote.

“But if there is one thing that it has taught me above all else is that we are not alone, and together we lift each other up.”

Bracknell’s battle with cancer came to light in October 2016 when her husband launched a Go Fund Me page to raise money for her to undergo treatment overseas, due to a lack of options available on the NHS.

She had been diagnosed in September after rapid weight gain around her abdomen and breathlessness prompted her to seek medical help.

After Bracknell was diagnosed, fans helped her raise more than £50,000 to undergo groundbreaking treatment in Germany.

She started taking new medication, but later revealed that it had failed.

PA Media

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