Leah Bracknell's devastated family have been quietly grieving the loss of the former Emmerdale star, who died last month at the age of 55.
The actress was supported until the very end by her husband Jez Hughes and her two grown-up daughters Lily and Maya, who released a poignant statement today confirming she had lost her fight with terminal lung cancer.
Leah – known as Ali to her family – quietly married her long-term partner in March 2017 , six months after learning her stage 4 cancer was uncurable and inoperable.
They wed in a small and intimate civil ceremony in Horsham, West Sussex, on March 10 2017 after 13 years together.
Leah initially chose not to have chemotherapy as it offered her little extra time.
Instead, her research suggested immunotherapy, which boosts the body’s own ability to fight the cancer, was her best chance of prolonging her life.
But it was not available on the NHS and she would have to pay for treatment privately in Germany.
Her family appealed to relatives and friends for help raising the money on a private Facebook page, but it wasn’t long before the news spread and the public raised nearly £65,000 in just two weeks.
Before Leah could fly out, a new consultant discovered she was eligible for a targeted drug which she qualified for thanks to her Chinese heritage on her mother’s side.
But by March 2017, it was clear the new treatment was no longer working.
Leah and Jez then decided to tie the knot in fear that she didn't have much time left to set her affairs in order.
As time would tell, Leah managed to hold on until September 2019 before her cancer became too aggressive to fight.
The inspirational actress and yoga teacher had spoken frequently and bravely about her battle, insisting that she would stay positive throughout the worst of it.
But she admitted in 2016 that her worst moment came when it was time to tell her adult daughters of her diagnosis.
"Any mother will know how I felt," she told the Daily Mail at the time.
"It's the worst thing you can imagine having to tell those closest to you, something like this . . . trying to find the words. It's the worst thing I've had to do…"
She added: "I think it's almost worse for those close to you because they're trying to look after and protect the person who's poorly, not just physically, but emotionally."
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