Valerie Harper: My Cancer Is “Incurable,” But “Not Progressing”

Valerie Harper
Valerie Harper tells Us Weekly her cancer is "incurable" but "not progressing"; "I don't wake up thinking, 'I'm going to die,'" she says Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Cancer is no match for Valerie Harper. A year and a half after she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, the Rhoda actress, 74, is "feeling very good." Speaking with Us Weekly at the 32nd Annual Fred & Adele Astaire Awards at NYU's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts on June 2, Harper said she was responding well to treatment. 

"It is not progressing," she said of her cancer, which began in her lungs and spread to her brain. "It is going the other way. It is looking better and better, each test. It's incurable, but that's okay."

Not surprisingly, Harper has good days and bad days—but for the most part, she feels "pretty much" back to her old self. "I'm doing quite well," she told Us. "The pills are a pain in the ass, but that's okay. I'm alive, so I can deal with the icky day or two." She added, "I was supposed to be dead in three months, and here it is a year and six months later."

Harper will never be "in remission"—her doctor "doesn't use that term," she said — but the interventions she's tried have been very effective. "[My doctor] says you try a therapy and there's a response or a non-response. In my case, I had a great response," she explained, noting that she goes in for new tests every eight weeks.

"I don't wake up thinking, 'I'm going to die.' I don't do that," she continued. "It's a waste of time. It really is. My husband's right there [when I wake up], and I think, 'Isn't he cute? Thank you, God, for this day.'"

The Mary Tyler Moore Show alum stressed, too, that she wants to continue working, despite being sued recently by a producer who claimed she hid her health problems until after she signed on to star in his play. "There have been a couple of Broadway shows that have been offered," she said. "I'm doing a bunch of stuff. There are things right now that I'm reading, there are some revivals. I'm very excited about it."

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