NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Given just three months to live after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in March, actress Valerie Harper may be close to remission, doctors say.
Harper found fame playing the role of the eternal optimist Rhoda Morgenstern on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” It seems it wasn’t just an act, as Harper is always looking on the bright side, CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock reported Thursday.
“Every day, I say thank you for something,” Harper, a Suffern, N.Y., native, told OMG! Insider before she was diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare brain cancer. “The sun looks fabulous. Or I love rain. When it rains, I go, ‘Oh, good, it’s raining!’ … I find something every day because we should.”
Americans learned of Harper’s supposed fate in March.
“I really want Americans and all of us to be less afraid of death,” she told the TV show “Doctors” shortly after. “Don’t go to the funeral before the day of the funeral.”
Neurosurgeon Dr. Ezriel Kornel said that while the survival rate is low for patients with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, remission isn’t unheard of.
“We treat it because there are those who do respond,” Kornel said. “The goal is primarily to slow down growth of a tumor, but once in a while, if you’re very fortunate — and we don’t really know why some people are more fortunate in that way than others — you can actually get the tumor to stop growing and regress and even to have the tumor cells die off.”
CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez said Harper’s cancer probably originated with the lung cancer she had in 2009.
“This is more than likely a metastasis from a lung cancer that she had in 2009 that spreads to the linings, the membranes that surround the brain,” Gomez said. “And because they have a way of kind of growing into area and nooks and crannies of the brain, it’s not really operable. And it’s hard to get rid of all of it because it might be in various spots.”
Harper is expected to compete on “Dancing with the Stars” this season, TMZ reported Wednesday.
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