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Leah Bracknell: Ex-Emmerdale actress talks of cancer ‘nightmare’


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Former Emmerdale actress Leah Bracknell has said the debilitating effects of terminal cancer have left her feeling like she is “trapped in a cage”.

Bracknell, who played Zoe Tate in the soap for 16 years, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in 2016.

In an update on her blog, she said that “having a moan and a whinge does not come without a sizable chunk of guilt”.

But she wrote she’s “fed up of being fed up” and longs to easily do “simple stuff – driving, walking, breathing”.

The 54-year-old wrote: “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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Bracknell starred in Emmerdale until 2005

She said the last time she felt “normal” was last autumn, when she went on holiday to France with husband Jez Hughes. But there have since been a series of setbacks, including a fall in January when she tripped over washing.

“Apart from labour, I can honestly say that I have never felt pain like it,” she wrote. “So once again, there I was, as helpless as a baby.”

Despite being told by doctors that she hadn’t suffered a vertebral collapse as had been first feared, she was left immobile.

Not ‘my new normal’

“Now some of you may be thinking that its 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,” she wrote.

“But it isn’t. And if it wasn’t for Jez I’d have probably starved by now or been eaten by the cats.”

She recently returned to hospital for a fever, and the cancer treatment is currently on hold while tests are carried out on “a little abnormality concerning my heart”.

She concluded: “I do not accept this is my ‘new normal’. I look forward to better days, and looking Jez in the eye and seeing my husband, and seeing him looking back at his wife.”


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