Valerie Harper on Doing Dancing With the Stars Despite Cancer: "I Hope to Inspire"

Celebrity News Sep. 5, 2013 AT 10:50AM
Valerie Harper on July 28, 2013 Valerie Harper hopes to "inspire" her fans by competing on the 17th season of Dancing With the Stars. Credit: Jerod Harris/WireImage.com

Never say never! Despite being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer back in January, beloved Mary Tyler Moore actress Valerie Harper is excited to compete on the 17th season of ABC's hit show Dancing With the Stars, she tells Us Weekly.

"Listen, getting up off your bum at any time is good," Harper, 74, told Us on Wednesday, Sept. 4. "It's better than sitting. I don't mean you go out like a crazy rat, maniacally, I just mean you're moving through your life and dance is great. I missed it. It's a great way to be in the moment, and with this kind of dancing, it's a new kind of challenge for me, and that's exciting."

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Harper was initially given just three to six months to live after doctors diagnosed her with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition that causes cancer cells to metastasize into the fluid-filled membrane surrounding the brain.

She has since, however, continued to keep a positive outlook, and even signed on to do a new TV movie this summer -- a romance called The Town That Came A-Courtin'.

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"I just feel so in the moment, so in this moment, so present," she told Us. "Anybody who's not living their life -- I hope to inspire them. You've heard cancer people say it before -- that they were lucky to get it because they were living more fully than ever before."

In fact, Harper told Us, taking part on Dancing has not only helped her to shed more than 20 pounds already, it's also helped her in her recovery. 

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"The laughter, the fun of it," Harper said of how she's seen improvements in her health thus far. "I couldn't be happier."

Added her professional dance partner, Tristan McManus, "She's just such a force of nature. She's doing amazingly well."

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