News Headline: Valerie Harper is doing ‘Dancing With the Stars’ despite incurable cancer
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Actress Valerie Harper, who’s battling terminal brain cancer, will compete on season 17 of “Dancing With the Stars,” according to an Aug. 28 TMZ report.
Harper, who was given three to six months to live in March 2013, was diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare incurable brain cancer, back in January. Harper, 73, said she has made peace with her illness, but admits she was devastated when she was first given her tragic prognosis.
” ‘Incurable’ is a tough word,” she told the Today Show. “So is ‘terminal.’ It feels awful damn good to be open about [the illness], face it and see what you can do. If you die, you’re not a failure. You’re just somebody who had cancer, and that’s the outcome.”
Harper is best known for playing Rhoda Morgenstern on the 1970s TV series “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and its spinoff, “Rhoda.” In 2011, Valerie’s co-star, Mary Tyler Moore, underwent surgery to remove a benign brain tumor.
Harper said she accepts her bleak prognosis and is trying to make the most of each day. “I have an intention to live each moment fully,” she said. “I’m not dying until I do. I promise I won’t.”
Harper, who battled lung cancer in 2009, revealed in her memoir “I, Rhoda” that she chose to keep her lung cancer a secret because she didn’t want people to feel sorry for her. “I didn’t want to be pitied,” she wrote. “I wanted to move on.”
Harper said she was shocked by her lung-cancer diagnosis because she had always led a healthy lifestyle and never smoked. “My mind started to go crazy,” she wrote. “What had I done to bring this on myself? I didn’t drink. I’d never smoked.”
Harper’s mom, Iva, died from lung cancer in 1988 at the age of 71. Season 17 of “Dancing With the Stars” premieres Sept. 16.