Former Emmerdale actress Leah Bracknell has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
The 51-year-old played lesbian vet Zoe Tate for 16 years, departing the Dales in 2005.
Mum-of-two Leah – real name Alison – revealed that she was rushed to hospital last month, whereupon she received the devastating news.
She explained: “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.
“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!!!!
Referencing a Bob Dylan lyric, she added: “My priority is to defy expectation. My priority is to love, to laugh, and, as Bob said, to “keep on keepin’ on”.”
Leah, a yoga teacher, is now trying to raise £50,000 for treatment at a specialist clinic; she and partner Jez Hughes have set up a fundraising page.
Jez writes: “To me she has given love, patience, kindness and shone an incredible light in my world. We want to make sure the light she shines radiates for a long time yet, and are all determined she can beat this.”
If you would like to donate visit this page.