Valerie Harper, Facing Incurable Cancer, Hopes for Miracle

Valerie Harper
Valerie Harper arrives at an event in Los Angeles Jan. 8, 2012 (Reuters/Sam Mircovich)

Valerie Harper has incurable cancer, but she's keeping herself open to receiving a miracle.

In her first television appearance since revealing her diagnosis last week, the actress told the Today Show's Savannah Guthrie that "incurable" is a tough word.

People “hear it as this death sentence,” Harper, 73, explained. “But I'm not dying until I do. I promise I won't.”

Harper also said she was more than hopeful: “I have an intention to live each moment fully.”

She has been diagnosed with a rare brain cancer, and it's unclear as to how long she has left. Her doctor told her a week, three months or years. She received the news less than two months ago during her book tour for her recently released memoir, titled I, Rhoda.

The 1970s television sitcom actress is best known for playing Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoff, Rhoda. She won four Emmys in the role.

In her Today Show interview, which aired Monday, Harper said it's important to keep “your thoughts open to infinite possibility and keep yourself open to miracles.”

“It feels … good to be open about [the illness], face it and see what you can do,” she explained. “If you die, you're not a failure. You're just somebody who had cancer, and that's the outcome.”

Though the actress said she's “ready to say bye-bye” if that's what it comes to, she's holding on to hope: “The thing I have is—very rare and it's serious, and it's incurable … so far. So I'm holding on to the 'so far.'”

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