- (Photo: Reuters/Lucas Jackson)
It may come as a surprise that Valerie Harper is set to compete on the upcoming season of "Dancing with the Stars" considering she was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness.
In January, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" actress was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer- leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, in which cancer cells metastasize into fluid-filled membranes that envelope the brain.
Harper was given a matter of months to live when she made a hardline decision to live the last days of her life to the fullest, and today, the 74-year-old is still doing just that.
"I feel much better," said the actress, according to People. "And my brain scans are looking better too."
Furthermore, Harper's doctors said that her case is unique because there are fewer signs of cancer, but that the disease will inevitably lead to death.
"They both say it's not a case of if, but when," she said. "And I can live with that."
Not letting the cancer slow her down, Harper agreed with ABC and "Dancing with the Stars" came knocking at her door for the 17th season of the show.
"When they asked, I thought, 'Why would I say no?' When life asks you to dance, you just have to dance," Harper recounted, according to People.
Additionally, "it might prove inspiring to people to see a 74-year-old woman with terminal cancer dancing," she said.
Despite a positive outlook, the Broadway star is nervous about learning the dance steps.
"I'd been asked to do this before, but I always said no because I started dancing on Broadway at 17," said Harper. "It helped pay for my acting lessons. And I didn't want to appear on the show and fumble because of my diagnosis."
At the time of her diagnosis, Harper promised fans a good fight against cancer.
"'Incurable' is a tough word… I'm not dying until I do," the Emmy Award-winner told USA Today. "I promise I won't."
Meanwhile, the entire season 17 cast of "Dancing with the Stars" was revealed on "Good Morning America" on Sept. 4.
On the show, Harper is paired with "DWTS" professional dancer Tristan MacManus.
New celebrity contestants also include Snooki, Christina Milian, Jack Osbourne, and Leah Remini, among many others.
Season 17 of "DWTS" will kick off on ABC on Monday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m.