Valerie Harper has defied the odds and is "close to remission", the 74-year-old actress and her doctor revealed on the Today show. This does not mean the cancer is cured as nothing, at this stage, is certain. Her doctor said "the problem is that any minute this can change", further explaining by stating that patients "develop resistance to the therapy and it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when." This means that Harper may be able to continue long after her predicted three to six months to live. 

Valerie Harper
Valerie Harper in April of this year, in New York.

The actress was diagnosed in January with terminal brain cancer and has been undergoing chemotherapy combined with acupuncture and Chinese tea. Harper has overcome one form of cancer, of the lung, in 2009. Tests revealed this year that she has leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition where cancer spreads to the fluid-filled membranes around the brain. 

Harper may be a perfect example of mind over matter, where remaining positive enables cancer sufferers to continue beyond their doctor's predictions. Another example of this is amateur Athlete and fundraiser Jane Tomlinson, the mother of three was given 12 months to live in 2000 but continued for another 7 years before losing her cancer battle. She continued fundraising until her death and collected, via sponsored athletic events, over £1.8 million for cancer research. Hopefully, Harper will be able to continue enjoying her life for as long as possible. 

Valerie Harper and Tony CacciottiValerie Harper with her husband Tony Cacciotti in April 2013.

Harper has also been using her celebrity status to draw attention to the disease. A special interview with Harper has been commissioned by NBC, Valerie's Story presented by Meredith Vieira, features Harper and her husband speaking frankly about living with cancer. Footage, according to the LA Times, shows Harper receiving treatment for cancer including chemotherapy. The show was filmed before Harper was aware she is "close to remission". Nevertheless, speaking on the show, her husband, Tony Cacciotti, said he was overjoyed at Harper's continuing battle: "going from three months to live or less, we're into our sixth month now and there's even hope beyond that." The interview provides an insight into the lives of those living with cancer, particularly how it affects the people around them. Whilst Cacciotti was optimistic, glad to have his wife alive for a few more months, Harper said "we're looking at Christmas" when discussing how long she had to live. Hopefully, Harper will continue responding well to the treatment.  

Harper is best known for her television roles, especially as Rhoda in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and later the spin-off series named after her character. More recently, Harper has appeared in such dramas as Desperate Housewives, Drop Dead Diva and Less Than Perfect. Harper has made headlines this week when TMZ reported rumours that she may be competing on Dancing With the Stars. Whether or not Harper will be joining Leah Remini and Snooki as celebrity dancers on the show will be revealed on Good Morning America on Wednesday 4th September. 

Valerie's Story - A Meredith Vieira Special will air on 19th September on NBC. 

Valerie HarperValerie Harper is "close to remission".