A campaign to raise £50,000 for former Emmerdale actress Leah Bracknell to undergo ground-breaking treatment for lung cancer has hit its target.
The sum was reached days after the appeal was launched on donations website gofundme.com as more than 2,500 donations were made.
Leah, who played Zoe Tate in the Yorkshire Dales-based ITV series for 16 years from 1989 to 2005, and her partner Jez Hughes set up the campaign to send her for treatment in Germany.
The 52-year-old mother-of-two has been working as a yoga instructor in recent years, but is well-known for her Emmerdale storylines.
Leah, whose real name is Alison and is known to her family as Ali, only discovered she was battling terminal lung cancer five weeks ago.
She and Jez wrote about the devastating news and their hopes to save her life on the donation page.
In her fundraising appeal, she wrote: “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.”
The actress said she had an emergency procedure to remove excess fluid from around her heart but was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
She wrote: “In their opinion, that means it’s terminal, not curable, not operable.”
She said her priority is “getting well and strong” to be a “good mother, daughter, wife, or at least the best I can be”, and that she wants to “defy expectation”.
Jez explained more about what the funds were for, adding that the couple did their research and discovered “there are incredible breakthroughs being made in the field of immunotherapy and integrative medicine, which are seeing previously ‘incurable’ cancers going into complete remission”.
“A clinic in Germany called the Hallwang clinic is leading the way in this. The downside is that these cutting edge treatments aren’t yet available on the NHS outside of clinical trials and are very expensive.
“Due to difficult personal circumstances, Ali/Leah has been unable to work in her chosen profession of acting for a number of years which has seen a big drain on her resources. Understandably, she is unable to continue acting or teaching right now. This is why we are fundraising here.”