“This disease I have is lung cancer, even though it’s located on the lining of the brain, I don’t have brain cancer… everybody has reported that, so with Mario we can clear the decks.” Valerie first battled lung cancer in 2009.
Harper went on to tell Mario she is feeling well. “This course of treatment is working… each subsequent brain scan I get looks better and better. It’s not curable yet, as my husband says, let’s push the time limit… I’m past my expiration date and I plan to keep doing that if I can.”
The actress explained to Mario that both her doctors and husband Tony Cacciotti encouraged her to participate in “DWTS.”
“He (Tony) wanted me to keep working when we got the diagnosis. He said, ‘Valerie let’s not accept it, you keep pushing, you keep active.’”
Valerie, who is dancing with Tristan MacManus, went on to say the disease is not affecting her dancing, “I’m not having any problems with my cancer, I’m having a problem with my left knee, they’re 74 years old now and I haven’t danced professionally in 50 years.”
The "Mary Tyler Moore" alum promised Mario that they will dance together next year, “Thank you for your incredible vote of confidence that it would be a year from now, from your lips to God’s ears.”
For more of Harper’s story, watch "Valerie's Story -- a Meredith Vieira Special," Thursday night on NBC.
In a revealing new interview with “Extra’s” Mario Lopez, “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Valerie Harper talks candidly about her cancer diagnosis.