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Emmerdale's Leah Bracknell shares heartbreaking details of her cancer struggle 

Leah was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal lung cancer in 2016… 

Leanne Bayley

Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell has revealed she's "fed up" of living with terminal cancer. The actress, who played Zoe Tate in the soap for 16 years until 2005, says she wants to feel "normal again". In a new post on her blog, Something Beginning with C, Bracknell has told of how she feels "trapped in a cage" due to her cancer battle.

"This is one of my BIG fed ups. I am fed up of needing to be looked after, of not being able to fend for myself. I don’t want to lose myself to a new incarnation where I no longer have the strength or will to be who I want to be, to be who I am.

"Sometimes it feels like you are trapped in a cage. If only you could find the door and step out to freedom and life as it was before. If only you could wake from the nightmare: dawn breaks and you realise that it was all just a bad dream. And life is wonderfully normal again. Yes, if only."

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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'."

The 54-year-old 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" when she visited Devon in October 2018 to see friends before heading to Brittany in France with her husband Jez Hughes.

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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 the blog, Bracknell told of developing more physical issues in her spine due to 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 she had to rely on her husband to look after her. "Now some of you may be thinking that it's great to be waited on hand and foot, I haven’t cooked a meal in months, or done the washing, or done any housework, or shopped. I’ve barely got off my backside to get myself a glass of water. But it isn’t. And if it wasn’t for Jez I’d have probably starved by now or been eaten by the cats."

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The TV star, who is also a yoga teacher, said she struggles to rely on her family. "When illness reduces you to being 'cared for; to being dependent, to being reliant, it fundamentally changes how you see yourself. What’s more, it fundamentally changes how your partner or loved one sees you too."

Leah has set herself the challenge of sharing her experiences on her blog in order to help herself, and others. "Although private by nature, I set myself the challenge of writing the blog to open myself to taking risks and living life a little differently than I previously had done. It is an unexpectedly cathartic process. 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. in order to not feel alone in her journey, and to help others."

The TV star'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.

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