Valerie Harper Diagnosed With Brain Cancer, Given 3 Months

Wednesday, 06 Mar 2013 09:50 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Valerie Harper, best known for playing the upstairs neighbor Rhoda Morgenstern on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and on her own spinoff "Rhoda," is battling terminal brain cancer, the actress reveals in the latest issue of People Magazine on newsstands Friday.

Harper, 73, said she was diagnosed Jan. 15 with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition that occurs when cancer cells spread into the fluid-filled membrane surrounding the brain. Doctors have told her she has as little as three months to live.

"I don't think of dying," Harper told People. "I think of being here now."

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In her new memoir, "I, Rhoda," Harper divulges that she battled lung cancer in 2009 while starring in the Broadway show "Looped."

"I thought this is just not going to be good for comedy if the audience is out there worrying about their Rhoda," Harper, a lifelong non-smoker, said of her decision to keep her disease, which she fought with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, private.

Born in New York, the TV legend got her start as a dancer and chorus girl on Broadway before being cast as Rhoda for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and, later, her own spinoff series. Harper won four Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of the wisecracking New Yorker.

Upon hearing the news of Harper's diagnosis, celebrities took to Twitter to voice their support for the actress.

Harper has been married to Tony Cacciotti since 1987. The couple has one daughter together.

"I'm well past my expiration date already," Harper told People. "I've [had] a good run, what more can I ask for?"

Related stories:

IMG Chairman Forstmann Battling Deadly Brain Cancer

Hope For Deadly Brain Cancer

Venom Protein May Lead to Brain Cancer Cure

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