Actress Valerie Harper may be maintaining a positive outlook in the face of a devastating diagnosis of terminal brain cancer, but her husband, Tony Cacciotti, is having a tough time handling it.
“My poor husband is bereft, but we are getting through it and we can face anything,” Harper, 73, said in an interview with People magazine.
Harper is best known for playing Rhoda Morgenstern on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and her own spinoff, “Rhoda.” The Emmy-winning actress was diagnosed in January and made the diagnosis public last week.
According to People, Harper has leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition that occurs when cancer cells spread into the fluid-filled membrane surrounding the brain. Doctors have told Harper she may have just three months to live, the magazine has said.
Despite the dire outlook, Harper — who battled lung cancer in 2009 — told People, in its issue on newsstands now, that she’s “not suffering.”
“I don’t know what’s ahead, but I am ready for it and I want you to be, too,” she said, addressing her fans in the People article. “I don’t have a lot of side effects or any pain and I wanted you to know, who not only embraced Rhoda but also embraced Valerie so sweetly and for so many years, that I am in trouble but I am not. When the smoke clears I will be standing till I am not and I am ready for that too.”
“So onward,” she added. “I love you and know that I am OK. I am OK on this venture.”
Raha Lewis, a staff writer for People magazine, explained why Harper was speaking so openly about her illness.
“Valerie is most definitely interested in spreading awareness of this disease … and she did say that it is very important that we have access to universal health care so that is something that is very important to her,” Lewis said in an interview that aired today on “Good Morning America.”