Earlier this year, when Valerie Harper announced her terminal cancer diagnosis (she suffers from a rare condition, leptomeningeal carcinomatosis), the prospects were grim. The incurable brain cancer diagnosis had doctors telling the actress she had only about three months to live.
Vowing to "live in the moment," the fearless former "Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Rhoda" star has kept a positive outlook. During a visit to CBS's "The Doctors," Harper said, "I really want Americans and all of us to be less afraid of death. Don't go to the funeral before the day of the funeral. While you're living, live."
In this sneak peek at the upcoming NBC special "Valerie's Story — a Meredith Vieira Special," it appears that the star's health may have taken an unexpected turn for the better.
In the clip, "Today" host Vieira talked to Harper's physician, neuro-oncologist Dr. Jeremy Rudnick, who said, "I'd say that we're getting pretty close to remission."
Saying that Harper has defied the odds, Dr. Rudner was careful to point out, "The problem is, anytime this can change," due to the location of the cancer. He also said the star will likely develop resistance to the therapy, adding, "And it's not a matter of if — it's a matter of when."
Still, Harper (who's rumored to be joining the Season 17 cast of "Dancing With the Stars") and her husband, Tony Cacciotti, will take the good news, which allows the 74-year-old actress to buy some more time in the hope that something better will come along as a treatment.
[Related: Valerie Harper starts work on TV movie]
Harper and her husband agree with Dr. Rudnick: "Life is about buying time.
The news prompted Cacciotti to say, "Going from having three months to live, or less — we're into our sixth month, and now there's even hope beyond right now we're looking at…"
"We're looking at Christmas!" added Harper.
"Valerie's Story — a Meredith Vieira Special" airs Thursday, 9/19 at 10 PM on NBC.