“The Mary Tyler Moore” show was known for its humor, but one of its stars is facing a situation that’s far from funny.
Valerie Harper, 73, has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, People reports.
The erstwhile Rhoda Morgenstern explained that a slew of tests showed that she has leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, “a rare condition that occurs when cancer cells spread into the fluid-filled membrane surrounding the brain.”
The television icon received the word from her doctors on Jan. 15 that she has as little as three months to live.
"I was stunned," she told the magazine of first hearing the news. "And in the next minute I thought, 'This could draw more attention to cancer research.' I think there's an opportunity to help people."
Now that it's sunk in, “I don’t think of dying,” she said. “I think of being here now.”
Harper appeared on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” from 1970 until 1974, when she landed a spin-off show called “Rhoda,” which aired from 1974-1978. She’s appeared on numerous television shows throughout her long and storied career, most recently voicing a character this year on “The Simpsons.”
Her "MTM" co-star Mary Tyler Moore told People today that she's "absolutely devastated by the news... Valerie has given so much joy, laughter and love to the world. I join her fans and send much love and positive thoughts to her and her family during this difficult time."
Roma Downey, who worked with Harper on "Touched by an Angel," added her condolences as well, telling Extra: "We’re going to keep her in our prayers. I love Valerie. I love working with her. She is a beautiful, wonderful, generous-hearted woman."
Harper also published her memoir, "I, Rhoda," earlier this year and did a full round of press and signings to promote it. Despite everything she was going through, you'd be hard-pressed to find a photo of her with anything less of a great big smile.
Needless to say, we deeply admire her courage.
Watch Valerie Harper talk about her book on "omg! Insider":