Last January, when I heard that Valerie Harper was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis (try saying that), and was given only three months to live, I was shocked and saddened.
I love Valerie. We all love Valerie. We loved her as Mary Richard’s next door neighbor and best friend, Rhoda Morgenstern, on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” We loved her spin-off, “Rhoda,” and later, her show “Valerie.” She played a matter of fact, but kind and lovable (did I mention funny) neighbor and friend on all three shows.
After the diagnosis, Harper came out and spoke about her illness, her zest for life, and her “live life to the fullest” attitude. So when I read that she had signed to be a contestant on “Dancing With The Stars,” I shouldn’t have been surprised … but I was. Harper says her husband is the one who really wanted her to do “DWTS.” He didn’t want her to give up. He told her she had to do it.
Harper signed on, and at 74, is the oldest in the competition and is “pretty close to remission, it defies odds,” her doctors say.
On opening night, Harper said, “I was given a death sentence … and here it is, eight, nine months later. I’m way past my expiration date, and I’m dancing!” “It’s good to be alive, and even better to be dancing!”
Her debut brought a standing ovation from the crowd, and tears to the eyes of judge Carrie Ann Inaba. It brought tears to my eyes too.
Valerie, you have a wonderful attitude, a kind heart, and you are a true inspiration to all of us. Keep fighting and stay true to yourself. We are rooting for you!
Who else thinks Valerie is an inspiration? I’m going to find some reruns of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and watch our old friend Rhoda. She brings a smile to my face.