Leah Bracknell has spoken out about her cancer battle in a new post on her blog, Something Beginning With C. The 53-year-old actress, who played Zoe Tate in Emmerdale for 16 years until 2005, was talking about Dame Tessa Jowell's brain cancer diagnosis and patient care in the UK, when she opened up about how she very nearly died in the lead up to being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in September 2016. She spoke of her experience, revealing that "the urgency of the situation was completely missed" when she first went to A and E.
The actress said: "I spoke to 4 GPs in the ten days before I was rushed to A and E in an ambulance. I had had blood tests, and x-rays, couldn’t breathe easily, was struggling with acute swelling and bloating of the abdomen, but the alarming truth of the matter is the system is bursting at the seams. I was literally dying, and almost did, but the urgency of the situation was completely missed. Even now, receiving treatment at a cutting edge NHS cancer centre, urgent scans are taking up to 3 weeks to come back due to the severe shortage of qualified radiographers."
Leah Bracknell was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 2016
In another post, titled The Benefits of Facing a Challenge, Leah went on to reveal the poignant gift her partner Jez Hughs had bought her after her diagnosis – a calendar for 2017. "Just after I was diagnosed, in September 2016, my partner gave me – an eternity ring? box of chocolates? roses? nope. A calender for 2017," Leah wrote. "I didn’t even know if I was going to get to 2017 if I am honest. A calender for pity’s sake? 'Fill it in,' he said. 'You’re not going anywhere.'"
The former Emmerdale actress regularly updates fans on her health on her blog
In August, Leah discovered that the medication she was taking was no longer working. Writing on Leah's crowdfunding page, Jez said: "We have found out the drug definitely isn't working so she has been off this for a while while we find out the next steps." He added: "We think it probably stopped working back in March or even before. So for the last five months she has been prospering solely on the alternative treatments. This is due to your incredible support as these aren't cheap. So we are so grateful for the opportunity to keep Leah strong and well. We really believe it is working."