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Emmerdale's Zoe Tate actress Leah Bracknell reveals she has terminal lung cancer

Mirror logo Mirror 6/10/2016 John James Anisiobi

Credits: ITV © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: ITV It's the kind of shocking news that one would expect in an Emmerdale storyline, but for Leah Bracknell it was more hard-hitting than any script she's ever read.

The former Emmerdale actress, who was the first lesbian character on a British soap, has revealed that she has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

Leah, 51, played Zoe Tate on the soap for just over 16 years, and the long serving actress has told how she was rushed to hospital last month for an emergency operation before later being diagnosed with the condition.

Treatment for her condition is going to be expensive and one specialist clinic in Germany has been flagged as the best place to go to get help.

However, with the cost of flights, medicine and treatment all adding up, Leah and her partner Jez Hughes have set up a fundraising page to try and hit their target of £50,000.

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Leah, real name Alison, is famously fit and has been teaching yoga for many years, but together with Jez, they asked her fans for help in a lengthy plea.

She writes: "Just over 5 weeks ago. I was feeling perfectly well, fit and healthy. Teaching yoga classes and workshops, it was a time of new beginnings : preparing to move house, youngest child fleeing the nest, and excited to be starting rehearsals for a comedy play, being back onstage, going on tour.

"But, it turns out that the universe had other plans. Life was about to be unexpectedly turned on its head.

"I began to feel breathless climbing stairs. Really breathless. I just put it down to a bit of stress.

"My abdomen suddenly ballooned - and within a matter of a few days I looked heavily pregnant.

"I could barely walk or breathe. Then, one Saturday night at the beginning of September I ended up in A & E."

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The mum-of-two continued: "The bad news is that I have been diagnosed with lung cancer, stage 4. 

"In their opinion, that means it's terminal, not curable, not operable.

"A fairly brutal and bleak diagnosis but one I am determined to challenge and see from the perspective of "a glass half full", going against a lifetime of pessimism, negativity and fear!!!!"

Leah says her priority is "getting well and strong, so that I can continue to endeavour to be a good, mother, daughter, wife, or at least the best I can be.

"My priority is to defy expectation. My priority is to love, to laugh, and, as Bob said, to "keep on keepin' on"."

The couple hope to raise money to visit the Hallwang clinic in Germany and help go towards the costs of Ali's treatment, "to give her the best possible chances of not only survival, but to thrive."

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