Valerie Harper has received some very good news in her battle with terminal brain cancer. The 74-year-old “Mary Tyler Moore” star shared with NBC News special correspondent Meredith Vieira on the “TODAY” show Thursday, Aug. 29 that she may have bought herself a little more time to live.
“I’d say that we’re getting pretty close to a remission,” Harper’s doctor, neuro-oncologist Dr. Jeremy Rudnick, said. “It defies the odds.”
But Rudnick explained, “The problem is that at anytime this can change.” The cancer can “develop resistance to the therapy” and it’s “not a matter of if . . . it’s a matter of when.”
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“So is it about buying time in the hopes that something better comes?” Vieira asked.
“Life is about buying time,” Rudnick replied. “Exactly,” Harper agreed. “That’s what I always say.”
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The beloved actress was diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis in January, and doctors initially gave her three to six months to live. The rare condition causes cancer cells to metastasize into the fluid-filled membrane enveloping the brain. Since her diagnosis, Harper has been undergoing chemotherapy, and using acupuncture and Chinese tea as possible, homeopathic remedies.
Harper’s husband of 26 years, Tony Cacciotti, was excited to be given the possibility of having a little more time with his wife. “Going from having three months to live, or less; we’re into our sixth month, and now there’s even hope beyond right now we’re looking at . . . I never planned on this,” he said. “This is overwhelming.”
The Rhoda actress told Vieira, “We’re all going to die, but because I have a finite time — or have been told so by my doctors — I just want to live every moment to the fullest.”
On Wednesday, Aug. 28, TMZ reported that Harper has signed on to compete on the upcoming 17th season “Dancing With the Stars.”
Watch Harper in her classic TV series, “Rhoda”
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