Valerie Harper: 'I’m not looking forward to death'

Actress alive two years after 'months to live' prognosis


It’s been nearly two years since Valerie Harper was told she had only months to live, and the 75-year-old star turned up at AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards Gala and spoke to the magazine about what her life has been like lately.

“Happily, I am now almost two years out from my diagnosis of the metastasis of lung cancer to the lining of my brain. I was told I’d be dead in three months,” Harper recalled. “The doctors can give you only their guesstimate of what they see with this disease. I have been extremely lucky. Yet, it’s still terminal and incurable – ‘so far,’ as my husband, Tony says.”

Harper said though it’s tough dealing with the knowledge that she has a terminal illness, she’d rather live her life informed.

“If I had to choose between walking across the street and getting hit by car and killed – boom – just like that, or knowing what’s coming, I’d take this,” she said. “Knowing that you have something you have to deal with, rising to the occasion, builds character.”

The “Mary Tyler Moore” star, who starred in the spinoff “Rhoda,” is trying to enjoy the time she has left and not live in fear of dying.

More On This...

“Though I’m 75, I’m not looking forward to death, but it’s there for all of us. If I wake up in the night terrified, I try to find a way to not let the fear have me. Every moment you spend in fear of cancer is a moment you’ve wasted enjoying life. Replace that fear – get in the moment and enjoy it.”

Plus she hasn’t given up, she said, adding that science is make new strides every day.

“Every day they are coming up with new stuff,” Harper said. “There’s now an immunotherapy that builds up your immune system to fight the cancer… I want to make sure that people understand there are possibilities. I’m a perfect person to tell people not to give up.”