Valerie Harper optimistic in face of terminal cancer diagnosis (VIDEO)
By April Neale Mar 11, 2013, 12:52 GMT
Valerie Harper - Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel\'s Winter 2012 TV Critics Association Press Tour Evening Gala - Arrivals - Tournament House - Pasadena, CA, USA © Tina Gill / PR Photos
American actress Valerie Harper was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer on January 15 and the actress shared that this shock news from her doctors was overwhelming.
"[The diagnosis] hit me like a sledgehammer," Valerie, who wrote a new book, "I, Rhoda," shared with People magazine.
The type of cancer she was diagnosed with is considered to be very rare and progresses quickly - giving Valerie, 73, as little as three months to live according to the People interview. Tests revealed she has leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition that occurs when cancer cells spread into the fluid-filled membrane surrounding the brain.
Despite this news, Ms. Harper says she's keeping herself open to a miracle.
In her first TV interview since the news of her diagnosis broke wide last week, she tells the "Today" show's Savannah Guthrie that "'incurable' is a tough word." People "hear it as this death sentence," she explains.
But Harper insists she's "more than hopeful. I have an intention to live each moment fully."
"I'm not dying until I do," she says. "I promise I won't."
Harper, 73, received the news less than two months ago during her book tour for her new memoir, "I, Rhoda."
For Americans, Harper was part of our 1970s television family, starring with Mary Tyler Moore as Rhoda Morgenstern on TV's "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and its spinoff, "Rhoda." She received for Emmys for her role as the tough talking, witty New Yorker.
Harper says "it feels awful damn good to be open about (her 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."
The interview is scheduled to air on NBC's "Today" on Monday.
As we reported last week, Ms. Harper will also be on Monday's edition of the syndicated talk show "The Doctors."
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