Leah Bracknell dismissed smoking as cause of her lung cancer in emotional chat
Leah Bracknell had dismissed smoking as the cause of her terminal lung cancer in an emotional chat before her tragic death.
The ex-Emmerdale star, who found nationwide fame playing Zoe Tate for 16 years in the ITV soap, had only been diagnosed with the disease when she was rushed to hospital for life-saving surgery, after four doctors missed her symptoms.
Leah – known to her family and friends as Ali – wrote movingly about the guilt she'd felt for having previously smoked, despite professionals reassuring her that it hadn't caused her cancer.
She also told This Morning hosts HollyWilloughby and Philip Schofield of her shock.
"I did smoke in the past. The lung cancer was quite a shock, I haven't smoked for decades and decades," she said during an appearance on the show in October 2016.
"Normally people are diagnosed later. It came honestly out of the blue.
"I was vegetarian, I don’t drink that much. I was fit for my age."
In her blog, Something Beginning With C, the actress and yoga teacher railed against the lack of research dedicated to lung cancer, asking if it was because of the stigma attached to the disease.
"I myself have smoked in the past. And no one can make me feel more guilty about that than I did, let me tell you," she wrote.
"Even when I was told that the type of lung cancer with which I was diagnosed was not caused by smoking, it was a bitter sweet revelation, and let's be honest, it can't have helped. But to fail to fairly fund research into detection, screening, treatments etc due to prejudice seems to be almost inhuman."
She went on: "The nature of life is such that we mortals do do things that are not good for us, we drink, we smoke, we take drugs, we over eat, we don't excercise etc etc, and that all has health consequences, do we stand by and judge everyone and smear them with prejudice?
"If a person has skin cancer, are they blamed or shamed because they didn't use sunscreen?"
Leah added: "Every year thousands of people are dying from lung cancer, and maybe we don't all need to! So, do check yourself out if you have concerns.
"We need to raise awareness of the disease and inequality surrounding funding for lung cancer, to motivate the government to address the shortcomings, welcome early screening initiatives, and extinguish prejudice."
Her call to arms came too late for Leah, but her legacy and painfully raw writing about cancer has helped spread awareness of the disease.
Leah leaves behind her husband Jez Hughes and her two adult daughters, Lily and Maya, who confirmed her death in a heartbreaking statement.
"It is with the deepest sadness that Leah Bracknell's family confirm that Leah passed away in September, three years after her diagnosis with stage 4 lung cancer," they said.
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