Valerie Harper, star of the Mary Tyler Moore Show and her own spin-off Rhoda, has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The 73-year-old actress reports she has only about three months to live.
Her first clue that something was wrong was numbness in her jaw; it struck about 6 weeks ago while she was rehearsing for her one-woman show, Looped. But it took doctors a while to figure out that the cause was leptomeningeal carcinomatosis—a condition in which cancer cells thrive in the fluid around the brain. Doctors speculate that this cancer may be connected to Harper’s battle against lung cancer, which she was treated for in 2009.
Symptoms of this brain cancer are highly individual but can include headaches, changes in mood and personality, difficulty swallowing, and problems with motor control of the neck, head, and tongue.
Harper is receiving chemotherapy to prolong her survival, but despite her former co-star Ed Asner’s declaration that Harper has what it takes to beat this—he told the Daily News he has, “ every confidence in the world that she will shock the hell out of us and survive…”, doctors say the dire prognosis is probably realistic.
Two years ago, Harper’s Mary Tyler Moore co-star Mary Tyler Moore had surgery for a meningioma , a non-cancerous, slow growing tumor in the lining of the brain.