Leah Bracknell, best known for her role as Zoe Tate in ITV’s Emmerdale, is staying positive despite her lung cancer diagnosis last year.

The actress who also starred in medical drama The Royal Today, told Loose Women that despite the bad news last year she has found the experience has had a “positive” impact on her life.

Leah’s illness was made public last October when her plight was detailed on a fundraising page set up by her partner Jez Hughes which hoped to raise £50,000 for treatment in Germany, in the first 24-hours the campaign reached almost £29,000. To date the fundraising has totaled over £62,000.

The 52-year-old, who quit Emmerdale after sixteen years in 2005, moved from acting work to concentrate on her Yoga training, something she’s made a career out of since leaving the Leeds based show. Originally bosses at ITV Yorkshire said the character and actress were only taking a nine month break, however Bracknell decided not to return when her other ventures proved fruitful.

Speaking earlier today Leah has told ITV’s Loose Women that she’s refused to find out ‘how long’ she has left to live, and in doing so its empowered her to keep positive.

“I didn’t want doctors to guestimate how long I have left… I don’t wake up every morning feeling fearful I wake up feeling grateful and excited about life.” – Leah Bracknell on Loose Women

Thanks to the 3046 people who donated to her Go Fund Me page, including ex-Emmerdale co-stars such as Claire King, Leah has now raised more than expected which has enabled her to try a different medication that she hopes will provide an extended life expectancy. The actress also discussed with Kaye Adams, Jennie Mcalpine, Nadia Sawalha and Andrea McClean about how she found out about the illness.

“I’m quite a healthy person so I noticed I couldn’t go upstairs and then I stated the swelling within about ten days… That was the scariest thing from one moment sitting feeling quite normal and strong… One Saturday I was in distress and called 999, I didn’t known it then but I had almost died in those 48 hrs… I had fluid on the lungs and it had to be drained so the surgeon saved my life.” – Leah Bracknell on Loose Women

The cancer changed her figure with Leah going from a size eight to looking pregnant in the space of just over a week. However despite the stage four diagnosis she aims to ‘beat the disease’ and ‘defy expectations’. She told the panel she feels ‘positive about life’ adding she feels 80% calmer in recent times.

“I can’t change the diagnosis but I can change how I deal with it… I’ve built a relationship with the cancer asking why is it here, what is it trying to tell me?.. I think a lot of the work I’ve done in the past as a yoga teacher, I have a head start – I have tools I can call upon a way of looking at the world that makes me less fearful of it,” – Leah Bracknell on Loose Women

She noted her outlooks is all about ‘taking back control’ and to ’empower yourself’.

Loose Women airs weekdays at 12.30pm on ITV, UTV and STV

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