Today Show: Valerie Harper Exclusive Interview
Valerie Harper was on the Today Show to talk about her incurable brain cancer diagnosis for the first time in the Today Show’s exclusive interview.
Harper, the actress who played the lovable Rhoda on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and on her own spin-off Rhoda, had more than 52 million fans tune in to her wedding on Rhoda and even more tuned in when she revealed she had cancer last week.
“We all need to be ready to say goodbye,” Harper said, “and I am ready.”
Today Show: Valerie Harper Brain Cancer Diagnosis
In her memoir, I, Rhoda, Harper traces her life from small child to young performer on Broadway to her breakout in television. It was while working on the road shooting scenes for the remake of a play she starred in when she was younger that Harper said she began having a strange feeling in her jaw. She went to a neurologist who told her she had cancer cells in the membrane around her brain.
She told the Today Show the diagnosis hit her husband the hardest. The couple, which has been together for 34 years, have a daughter together and Harper said the one thing she is scared of is leaving her family. She also said the one thing she will miss the most is not being able to see her daughter get married. But Harper is still holding out hope. Doctors do not know when the brain cancer could take Harper’s life. She was told she has anywhere from three months to five years to live. Harper is also undergoing chemotherapy in the hopes of prolonging her life. “I like to tell my cancer cells they can live in there if they want,” Harper said. “I just ask them not to kill me.”
Harper, who was joyous through the entire interview, only crying once when talking about leaving her family behind, began tearing up again when she said the one thing she is savoring while she is alive is her husband. She said her husband has been feeling sweeter and looking more gorgeous to her than he ever has before. Her husband, Tony Cacciotti, said the one thing he has learned has from the cancer diagnosis is how generous his wife really is, and said she has given so much to other people even after she was diagnosed with cancer.
As for her advice for other couples struggling with a cancer diagnosis, Harper said the one thing you can do is be happy and be strong for the other person.