FORMER Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell has said she refuses to treat this Christmas as her last – despite being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

The 53-year-old, who lives in Worthing, told The Mirror that she is planning a normal low-key festive celebration with her husband Jez Hughes and two daughters.

Leah, who played Zoe Tate in the soap, was diagnosed in October 2016.

She told The Mirror: “We haven’t arranged anything, it will all be very last minute. 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.”

The actress has tried various treatments and raised £60,000 for immunotherapy treatment, which is not available on the NHS.

The treatment is said to reprogramme the body’s defence system and attack the deadly cancerous cells.

However, the treatment stops working when then cancer cells start to resist.

She said she has tried to remain positive, despite the diagnosis. She said: “It’s easy to start disliking your body and the tumour. So now I say thank you to my body a lot.”

After leaving Emmerdale, she has regularly appeared in pantos. But since her diagnosis the work has dried up.

She said: “No one is employing me since I was diagnosed, the phone hasn’t been ringing.”

She has instead focused her energy on becoming a yoga teacher and shamanic healing instructor

She said it helps to keep her upbeat and channel positive energy.

Reflecting on her diagnosis, she said: “Devastating doesn’t convey how shattering that diagnosis is. Telling my daughters was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. I didn’t know what to do, but eventually I thought, right, I’m cried out now.

“I could have died but I was still alive – that was a gift. I had the time to tell my family how much I love them and decide how I wanted to live.”

Next month she will host a special event in London called Cancer and the Art of Living where she will share her story and her techniques. She said: “This is my way of trying to give something back and say thank you.”