Leah Bracknell quietly marries long-term partner
- Former Emmerdale star, 53, was diagnosed with lung cancer in October 2016
- She married long-term partner Jez Hughes in Sussex in March last year
- Conventional medicine stopped working and Leah is using alternative therapies
Published: 05:57 EST, 7 January 2018 | Updated: 08:26 EST, 7 January 2018
Former Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell has wed her long-term partner in a quiet ceremony as she continues to battle lung cancer.
The 54-year-old married her author boyfriend Jez Hughes, 44, in March last year according to The Mirror.
The couple chose to marry shortly after discovering that treatment for Leah's terminal cancer had stopped working.
The husband and wife said their vows in the drawing room at Park House – a grade II listed Georgian building Horsham, Sussex on March 10.
Former Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell quietly married her long-term partner Jez Hughes in a small ceremony in March last year
Leah – who played Zoe Tate on the hit soap Emmerdale – was diagnosed with the illness in October 2016, and feared she would die within a year of receiving the devastating news.
Her now husband Jez set up a GoFundMe page in the hope of raising funds to pay for further immunotherapy and integrative medicine at a German Clinic.
The family have since surpassed its fundraising goal of £50,000, raising a total of £64, 435 thus far.
In December the actress and yoga teacher appeared on Lorraine where she told the host that she wanted to teach people how to embrace life, and said that she still has hope for the future despite feeling 'written off' by some.
Leah was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in October 2016, and feared she would die within a year of receiving the devastating news
'It is still my life, other people were writing me off quicker. Even people close to me, I don't mean to be unkind, but people are embarrassed, they don’t know what to do,' she said on the show.
'They… are feeling very pitiful. The one thing that nobody wants is to be pitied.
'It feels like all my power has been taken away,' she said.
'This [her positive approach] is very much about how we can hold onto our power in order to deal with doctors and hospitals and retain authority.
'The point is, it’s life and living. I am alive until the point I am not. That for me is the key, not to surrender to something else.'
But she recently revealed in an interview with the Mirror how people had stopped offering her work since learning of her cancer battle.
'No one is employing me since I was diagnosed, the phone hasn’t been ringing,' she said.
The star is a devoted yoga practitioner and has tried alternative treatments such as healing
In August this year Leah was told her NHS treatment plan had stopped working, leaving her reliant on on alternative treatments such as plant-based healing oils and sessions in an infrared sauna.
Despite the setbacks, Leah says she is determined to remain positive and insists she sees cancer as a 'teacher' she can learn positive lessons from, rather than an enemy.
She is keeping the festive season low key, spending the time with her husband Jez Hughes and two daughters, and has vowed to keep things 'exactly the same' as they always have been.
Speaking to the Mirror, she said: 'We haven't arranged anything, it will all be very last minute,' she says. 'So, in other words, it will be exactly the same as it always is.
'I could think, "We are going to have the biggest Christmas tree, people will be able to see it in Cornwall, and we'll have reindeer on the roof".
'But that would be like saying, "this might be my last Christmas, get through it and I'll have done that". I don't think like that.'
In a blog post last month to mark a year since her diagnosis, Leah insisted she sees cancer as a teacher she can learn from rather than an enemy
Leah, who appeared on Loose Women in June this year, previously raised £60,000 to pay for immunotherapy treatment, which is not available on the NHS.
The treatment 'reprogrammes' the body's defence system to attack cancerous cells. Trials show it could stop cancer from spreading and reduce tumour size.
The experimental treatment, which she received in Germany, isn't a permanent medication as it stops working when the cancer starts to resist it.
She also had Mexican shamans by her hospital bed in an attempt to heal her. Shamanic healers believe that illness has a spiritual cause and results in a loss of energy or power.
Leah has been practicing yoga for 15 years and also teaches it. She cites it as a way to keep her calm and positive in the face of her devastating diagnosis.
THE FORMER SOAP STAR'S FIGHT
Leah was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in October 2016 and faced a race against time to raise £50,000 to pay for pioneering treatment in Germany.
The award-winning actress, who played lesbian Zoe Tate in the ITV soap for 16 years, had been told by doctors that her cancer is not curable and not operable.
An online appeal was launched to raise funds so Leah could visit the clinic that specialises in DNA-based immunotherapy and within 24 hours of her announcement fans had raised a staggering £40,000.
Donations poured in from more than 1,700 people, including a £5,000 pledge from one anonymous donor.
Now that total is up to £62,355 and Leah has been receiving treatment she hopes will increase her life expectancy.
Miss Bracknell, a 52-year-old mother-of-two to Lily, 25, and Maya, 21, who is believed to be a vegetarian and a non-smoker, said she felt fit and healthy just weeks before she was diagnosed.
She was about to start rehearsing for a comedy play alongside her work as a yoga teacher.
But in a matter of days she had become breathless climbing stairs and her abdomen swelled so much that she looked heavily pregnant.
When her heart rate rose to 180 beats per minute she was taken to hospital. There, a litre of fluid was drained from her heart and doctors diagnosed her with stage four lung cancer.
In an emotional post online, Miss Bracknell said: 'I was told later, without that [emergency procedure], I would have died. So I am beyond grateful. 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!'
Mr Hughes explained the £50,000 target would pay towards Miss Bracknell receiving potentially life-saving treatments at the Hallwang clinic.
He explained that the clinic uses 'DNA testing to attack the specific cancer cells in your body', and there are cases where 'previously 'incurable' cancers go into complete remission'.
In his fundraising appeal he said: 'She has responded with incredible positivity and we're determined to fight this.
'After a month of researching and getting advice from professionals, we've found there are incredible breakthroughs being made in clinics in Europe that combine the best of integrative (alternative) medicine with the most cutting edge modern treatments such as immunotherapy.'
As vet and landowner Zoe Tate in Emmerdale, Miss Bracknell portrayed the first lesbian in a British soap. Her farewell from the show in 2005 won her the 'Best Exit' at the 2006 British Soap Awards.
She has also appeared on TV in Judge John Deed, A Touch Of Frost, DCI Banks and daytime soap The Royal Today. She has also toured the country on stage in productions ranging from Shakespeare to pantomime.
Miss Bracknell lived in Yorkshire for 25 years before moving to Worthing, West Sussex.