Former Emmerdale actress Leah Bracknell says she has a positive outlook on life and is not fearful despite being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and that she has formed a “relationship” with her cancer to try to understand it.
She also said she does not want medical professionals to “guesstimate” her life expectancy based on the statistics surrounding the disease.
Leah’s battle with cancer came to light in October when her partner 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.
Leah, 52, told ITV’s Loose Women that while she initially felt angry about the diagnosis, she now considers herself “lucky” and that it acted as a wake-up call.
She said: “I’ve talked before about how my response was one of absolute anger, it’s infuriating – how dare you tell me this – which is why I didn’t want someone to guesstimate what someone thought my prognosis would be.
“It’s based on statistics that could be out of date, that could be not about my age, not about my specific sort of cancer. I don’t want to be a statistic.”
She said she wants to be considered an “exceptional patient”, defying the odds and what doctors have predicted.
“I don’t know if I’m defying or not defying. But it means I’m going to have a nice life along the way.”
Leah – who played Zoe Tate in Emmerdale for 16 years from 1989 to 2005 – added: “I don’t wake up every morning feeling fearful. I wake up feeling grateful, feeling happy.”
She said that she is calm “80% of the time” and this is down to her experience as a yoga teacher.
She said: “I think a lot of the work I’ve done in the past as a yoga teacher and shamanic practitioner, I’ve already been doing a lot of the groundwork and teaching similar things across the last 15 years, so I had a head start in many ways.
“I’m really lucky that I have tools that I can call upon, a way of looking at the world that makes me less fearful of it.
“I think the more you can make friends with the fear, or you can build a relationship with the cancer, shall I say, that’s very much what it’s been about – building a relationship with it.”
She said the “petty stuff” and “rubbish” that used to worry her is no longer a concern.
“I haven’t got the energy to deal with that stuff. No offence, but I’m not going to deal with it.”
Leah is taking a new medication which may help to give her a longer life expectancy, but she said: “It will stop working at some point.”