- (Photo: Reuters/Lucas Jackson)
Valerie Harper has taken a firm stance on her terminal illness, declaring this week that she wants to live out her final days to the fullest.
Well known for her role as Rhoda on the "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," the 73-year-old actress announced last week that she has an incurable brain cancer and was given six months to live.
"I'm alive, I'm feeling good," said the spirited star, according to USA Today. "I'm trying to live every moment as much as I can."
Harper was diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis- cancer cells metastasize into fluid-filled membranes that envelop the brain.
"'Incurable' is a tough word … I'm not dying until I do," the Emmy Award-winning actress noted. "I promise I won't."
Although extremely optimistic, Harper clarified that she grieved over the news.
"I also feel so much better not hiding," said the actress of making a public announcement about her health. "It feels awful damn good to be open about it, 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 undergoing chemotherapy in hopes that the treatment will slow the cancer's spreading.
"My husband says if we can slow it down, more stuff may come up," the actress said, referring to new cures or treatments. "They are working fast and furiously for all of us; they're not doing this for Valerie Harper because she played Rhoda. They are doing this for cancer patients."
As for her doctors' best guess, "it could be a week, it could be three months or perhaps six months or a year," said Harper.
"I'm already at eight months from first symptoms," continued the actress. "I'm trying to get ready to say goodbye, and also to say hello if we have spontaneous remission."
Meanwhile, the 1970s sitcom star is reminding herself to keep "your thoughts open to infinite possibility and keep yourself open to miracles."
"I also want people to have a path forward in terms of facing death with less fear, and a real urgent call to life now," Harper imparted. "Don't waste the time you do have. We're all terminal; none of us are getting out of this alive. I felt sharing my experience may be of value or assistance in some way to others."
Harper is currently doing rounds of media appearances, and will appear on "The Doctors" as well as on the cover of this week's People magazine.
"The key is, don't go to the funeral until the day of the funeral," Harpers added while on "Good Morning America" on Tuesday.