Valerie Harper, the beloved 1970s sitcom star, who was diagnosed last year with an incurable form of brain cancer, unfortunately raised some false hopes for her fans this week due to what she now says was a miscommunication with a reporter. Sadly, she is not “absolutely cancer free,” as a recent magazine story quoted her as saying.
The story runs in this week’s issue of Closer Weekly and is touted as an “exclusive” by the magazine.
“Only in the new issue of Closer Weekly,” the magazine wrote in its promotional material, “Valerie Harper utters for the first time those powerful words every cancer patient hopes to say: ‘I’m absolutely cancer-free!’ the beloved star, best known for her role on Rhoda, exclusively shares with Closer.”
But Valerie Harper, who will guest star in the first two episodes of the new Hallmark Channel show Signed, Sealed, Delivered, had to give some bad news to the millions of people rooting for the 74-year-old to make it through her ordeal.
“In response to a recent erroneous quote concerning my health, I am not ‘absolutely cancer-free.’ I wish I were,” Valerie Harper said. “Right now what I am is cautiously optimistic about my present condition, and I have hope for the future.”
The statement was issued through the Hallmark Channel, as Harper who rose to fame as co-star the star of two of the 1970s most popular sitcoms — The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoff Rhoda — was promoting her appearance on Signed, Sealed, Delivered. She is seen at center with the show’s cast in the abve publicity photo. The show premieres Sunday at 8 pm.
So how did the disappointing misquote happen? Valerie herself took the blame.
“I had just had my yearly full-body scan to determine if this sneaky cancer had migrated to other parts of my body,” Harper said. “I told the reporter with excitement that I was cancer free, but what I meant to say was that my full body scan revealed that I was still thankfully cancer free (in the rest of my body).”
Valerie Harper was diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a type of lung cancer that migrated to the membranes surrounding her brain, and which is considered terminal. Patients rarely survive more than six months after a diagnosis.
But Valerie Harper is now more than a year out from learning that she has the disease.
“While the lepto has not spread, I am still not cured,” Valerie Harper says. “I am a cancer patient, and I continue to fight with the hope that a cure may be just around the corner.”