Valerie Harper diagnosed with terminal brain cancer

Doctors say that the "Mary Tyler Moore" actress may only have three months to live

By Prachi Gupta

Published March 6, 2013 9:00PM (EST)

Valerie Harper, the 73-year-old actress known to fans as the brazen upstairs neighbor, Rhoda Morgenstern, on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and spinoff, "Rhoda," revealed to People Magazine that she has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. According to her doctors, she may only have three months to live.

Harper, who battled lung cancer in 2009, said she now has eptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition in which cancer cells spread in the membrane surrounding the brain. She was diagnosed in January, after complained of a numbness in her jaw. “(I) was rehearsing away, and then it was as if I had Novocaine,” she told ABC’s “Good Morning America."

“This is a really complicated condition,” said her neuro-oncologist, Dr. Jeremy Rudnick. “The spinal fluid is a collection of fluid that’s being circulated (through the brain) kind of like a sink. The fluid itself is growing cancer cells, so they are multiplying in there. Those cells start to coat the brain.”

But Harper has maintained strong resolve despite a grim news: When given her prognosis, she told People,“I was stunned.”  “And in the next minute I thought, ‘This could draw more attention to cancer research.’”

"I don't think of dying," she said.  "I think of being here now."

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Cancer Celebrity Health Mary Tyler Moore Rhoda Morgenstern Television Valerie Harper