Actress Valerie Harper, best known for her role as a stereotypically outspoken New Yorker in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” is dying of an unusual type of brain cancer, according to People magazine. And she’s using the experience as a teaching moment for America.
In the shocking story 73-year-old Harper, who had lung cancer in 2009, told People that she may have as little as three months left to live. The actress was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer on Jan. 15, the magazine said.
Harper has leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, described as a cancer that spreads to the membrane filled with fluid, called the meninges, that is around the brain, People reported.
Several of her doctors, including one that is head of the Lung Cancer Research Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told People that the cancer Harper has only makes up 2 percent of all cancers. In Harper’s leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, cancer cells essentially quickly multiply in the meninges and coat the brain, according to People.
Oddly enough, Harper’s initial symptoms included feeling like she had a belt around her belly. Tests didn’t determine what was wrong. Several months later, she began feeling numb in her jaw, People reported. A spinal tap found cancer cells in her spinal fluid, and she received her diagnosis.
Harper said that while she was “stunned” to learn about her diagnosis, she went public to raise awareness of cancer research. Well done, Valerie.