- (Photo: Reuters/Lucas Jackson)
Valerie Harper, 74, is eager to compete on "Dancing With the Stars" and enjoyed her first evening on the series. Harper, who is currently battling cancer, recently said that she believes the show will help aid in her healing.
"I think the show will play a major part in my recovery," Harper told In Touch Weekly. "I feel much better." She then described her cancer as "disappearing" but "not exactly" in remission yet.
The actress decided to use a combination of chemotherapy, acupuncture and Chinese tea to combat the cancer in her brain. And the combination seems to be working for Harper. She also relies on the support of her husband, Tony Cacciotti, 75, who helped her decide to go on "Dancing With the Stars."
Harper is perhaps most well known for her roles on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and the ensuing spin-off series "Rhoda." At 74 she decided to take a risk and compete with people much younger than her on the dancing show, which is something she never saw herself doing.
"At first I didn't really want to do it. I really love the show, but I was afraid. I prefer to live as though this is all we have, because we could drop dead at any given moment. When life asks you to dance, you just have to dance," Harper said.
NBC News with Meredith Vieira will air a special focusing on Harper's life and battle with cancer tonight at 10 p.m. Her doctor, Jeremy Rudnick, told NBC that Harper's latest MRI showed the cancer in her brain is "pretty close to remission." Each brain scan continues to show progress against the disease, and Harper is adamant that she will live her life until her last breath.
Part of the reason she joined the cast of "Dancing With the Stars" was to provide inspiration for other people battling their own illnesses or struggling with life.
"Live your life while you're alive," she told viewers of the "Today" show, on which she recently appeared.