Nearly five decades after she got her television star on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Valerie Harper is beating the odds to survive cancer.
“It’s a miracle she’s still here,” said Dr. Jeremy Rudnick, her oncologist.
In a interview with PEOPLE Magazine, Harper, 78, opened up about receiving a harrowing diagnosis of leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare type of brain cancer. At the time of her diagnosis in 2013, she was given only three months to live from the incurable disease.
Despite the unlikely chances, Harper’s terminal cancer hasn’t yet taken her life — or her spirit.
“I’m still here,” Harper said exclusively to PEOPLE. “I still have cancer, but I’m okay, and most of my days are good.”
Harper made her television debut as Rhoda Morgenstern, an outspoken New Yorker and best friend to Mary Richards, played by the late Mary Tyler Moore, on the hit ‘7os sitcom of the same name. Harper would eventually land her own critically acclaimed spin-off based on her character, called “Rhoda.”
According to PEOPLE, the TV and Broadway actress was placed on a relatively new chemotherapy drug that was responsible for managing her cancer. That was until earlier this year, when she began experiencing seizures and cognitive issues. Her latest round of treatment includes even newer medication.
“Valerie developed this disease at a time when we keep coming up with stronger and better targeting drugs for her particular cancer,” Rudnick said. “The longer we keep her alive, the more options we have.”
Although she is grateful to the medical advancements keeping her alive, according to Harper, her secret weapon in the her bout with cancer is her husband turned caregiver: 78-year-old Tony Caccioti. She and the former celebrity personal trainer have been married since 1987.
“He’s such a nudge,” said the four-time Emmy winner of her spouse.
Earlier this year, Harper joined former television greats — including Dick Van Dyke, Ed Asner and Valerie Bertinelli — to honor the death of her prolific co-star, Mary Tyler Moore. In a statement to PEOPLE about her friend, she said in part, “I cannot stop the emotions I’m experiencing, since she was my acting colleague, my sister/soulmate, and above all, ONE HELL OF A GIRLFRIEND!”
She also took to Twitter to pay tribute, writing, “I will always love you, darling Mary Tyler Moore.”
Harper isn’t letting her diagnosis keep her down; she can still be found acting, most recently in guest roles on “2 Broke Girls” and as a voice actor on “The Simpsons.”