For former Emmerdale actress Leah Bracknell, the Christmas of 2017 is just like any other she spent in the past despite the fact that she is battling an incurable lung cancer. In a candid interview, the actress opened up about her health, struggle and why she does not want to assume that this will be her last Christmas.

"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," the actress said, revealing Christmas plans that involves her husband Jez Hughes and two daughters.

"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,'" she told Mirror. "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 53-year-old, who lives in Worthing, West Sussex was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in October 2016. The actress, who starred on the ITV soap for 16 years from 1989 until 2005, underwent intense treatment and even raised £65,000 for an advanced immunotherapy treatment in Germany.

Apart from facing a deteriorating health, the actress-turned-yoga teacher is also suffering massively careerwise. "No one is employing me since I was diagnosed, the phone hasn't been ringing," she lamented.

During a rare TV appearance on ITV daytime show with Lorraine Kelly, she revealed that people feel pity about her health condition rather than encouraging her for positive living. "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."

Bracknell, doesn't know how many months and years she will be able to live as her body has stopped responding to the treatment but, she wants to make the most of every moment she has been blessed with. "It's easy to start disliking your body and the tumour. So now I say thank you to my body a lot. 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.

"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," she said.