Valerie Harper, who became a television legend through The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda, has died, according to ABC 7.
What was the cause of death? For years, Harper had fighting a highly publicized battle with cancer. She was 80-years-old at the time of her death on August 30, 2019.
Variety reported that she “was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009 and with a rare brain cancer in 2013.” In 2017, Harper told People Magazine that her cancer was supposed to be fatal four years before that. “I’m still here,” Harper told the magazine then. “I still have cancer, but I’m okay and most of my days are good.”
“Valerie Harper has passed away. It was confirmed through a family member. She passed away at 10:06AM this morning,” ABC 7 journalist Ryan Sprouse wrote on Twitter on August 30, 2019.
Here’s what you need to know:
Harper Was Given Three Months to Live – Six Years Before She Died
In the interview with People Magazine, Valerie Harper revealed that she was given three months to live in 2013 after her cancer diagnosis. Specifically, the magazine reported that she was “diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis,” describing that as “a condition that occurs when cancer cells spread into the fluid-filled membrane surrounding the brain, known as the meninges.”
According to Medscape, Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis (LC) “is a rare complication of cancer in which the disease spreads to the membranes (meninges) surrounding the brain and spinal cord. LC occurs in approximately 5% of people with cancer and is usually terminal. If left untreated, median survival is 4-6 weeks; if treated, median survival is 2-3 months.”
Harper praised her husband in an interview with Fox News. “I happen to have a fabulous caregiver who is my husband, Tony Cacciotti. He’s been taking care of everything. Everything in my life. It’s just the most wonderful thing,” she said in 2017.
“In fact, my husband doesn’t let me go anywhere alone. He drives me everywhere. He’s incredible. So I have a setup that’s very good.”
She said the cancer had moved to the lining of her brain, telling Fox News, “[The doctor] said, ‘You know, I hate to tell you this, but this disease that you now have — it’s not the brain. It’s the lining of the brain,’” explained Harper. “‘This is very difficult. There’s no cure. We don’t have a pill. We don’t have anything that works really well. We can’t get the medication to hit what you need to hit.’”
Valerie Harper’s Husband Had Written That He Didn’t Want to Put Her in Hospice Care
On July 23, 2019, Harper’s husband Tony Cacciotti shared a message on Facebook about his wife’s condition. He wrote:
“I have been told by doctors to put Val in Hospice care and I can’t [because of our 40 years of shared commitment to each other] and I won’t because of the amazing good deeds she has graced us with while she’s been here on earth.
We will continue going forward as long as the powers above allow us, I will do my very best in making Val as comfortable as possible.
There are two special ANGELS on this planet masquerading as humans who live and work together, that have made it possible to have all of Val’s needs taken care of.
For those of you who have been in this position, you will totally understand that “it’s hard letting go.” So as long as I’m able and capable, I’ll be where I belong right beside her.
Many, many thanks for your outpouring of kindness and support.”