Valerie Harper will appear on the medical-themed talk show The Doctors on March 11.
This will be the Rhoda star’s first on-camera interview since she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in mid-January. The 73-year-old was given as little as three months to live. During her appearance, she will talk to the hosts about how she and her family have dealt with the news and how she plans to live out her final days.
Harper will be joined by her Mary Tyler Moore Show co-stars Cloris Leachman and Ed Asner. Neuro-oncologist Jeremy Rudnick and oncologist Ronald Natale, Harper’s physicians from Cedars Sinai, will also be joining her.
Co-host Travis Stork said of Harper, “I have to tell you I am blown away by her resilience and her resolve in the face of such a dire, dire diagnosis.”
Valerie Harper was diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare and incurable form of brain cancer, on January 15. The actress had previously battled lung cancer, and struggled with the decision to keep her diagnosis private. She explained, “I thought this is just not going to be good for comedy if the audience is out there worrying about their Rhoda.”
But when asked where she was when she received her diagnosis of brain cancer, she said she wasn’t the one to receive the news. Her husband, Tony Cacciotti, found out about her diagnosis before she did and tried to hide it from her.
“Poor baby,” she said, “he was so bereft.”
Harper’s brain cancer may be linked to the lung cancer she battled in 2009, according to Anders Cohen, chief of neurosurgery and spine surgery at the Brooklyn Hospital Center.
“Cancer has a propensity to spread to other areas of the body, and the brain is the most common destination for disease to spread from its primary location due to its high blood supply — 20 percent of the body’s blood flow goes to the brain, and cancer often spreads through the blood supply,” Cohen said. “This is a subtype of metastatic disease.”
Treatment can extend Harper’s survivability, Cohen said, but it is not curative.
“Some people tolerate treatment well, and the treatment can often give a patient some quality time,” he said. “There are some experimental treatments underway, but nothing definitive for improved outcome.”
Will you be watching Valerie Harper on The Doctors?