Former 'Emmerdale' star Leah Bracknell has promised to "defy expectation" after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
The 51-year-old actress was recently told that she has an incurable form of the illness, but Leah - who starred as Zoe Tate on the ITV soap from 1989 to 2005 - has insisted she will remain upbeat about her situation.
The health-conscious mother-of-two 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 ... 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. (sic)"
Leah had an emergency procedure to remove excess fluid from around her heart, but has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
She said: "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!!!!
"By the way, please imagine me writing this and speaking in quite an upbeat and cheerful voice. Do NOT imagine me sitting here writing through a veil of tears. I am not. Or feeling sorry for myself. I am not (yet). (sic)"
The actress has created a fundraising page in the hope of travelling to Germany for a potentially life-saving operation.
She explained: "My priority is getting well and strong, so that I can continue to endeavour to be a good, mother, daughter, wife, or at least the best I can be."