Rhoda star helps launch The American Lung Association's Lung
On May 13, 2014 in
Manhattan, actress and lung cancer survivor Valerie Harper, along
with country music star Kellie Pickler, helped kick off of a new
women's health initiative for The American Lung Association called
Valerie is best known for
playing Rhoda Morgenstern onThe
Mary Tyler Moore Showand
on her own spinoff series Rhoda. The character, a tough New Yorker, was a
sure foreshadowing of what Valerie Harper is made of, as we watch
her deal steadfastly with her current health issues.
A climb back from the
abyss is the good news all of us have been hoping for, and Valerie
has handled her situation with her usual good grace and flair.
Her appearance at the
event was heartfelt and über-appropriate. According to American Lung
Association studies, lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of
women, and more than 108,000 women in the US will be diagnosed with
lung cancer this year (and not all of them smokers). On average,
less than half will be alive next year.
Lung Force will help
educate women on the realities of lung cancer, including public
awareness and fundraising. CVS Caremark, the national presenting
sponsor of Lung Force, will support the cause with in-store
promotions and a chance to donate at the checkout counter.
You are encouraged to
stand up and cheer for CVS, as they made the awesome decision to
remove tobacco from its retail stores this year.
At this kickoff event, we
caught up and checked in with Valerie, to see how she is getting
along after she stunned the nation with a bleak cancer diagnosis.
Things have turned around. Needless to say, her boundless energy,
charm and warmth give her health affliction a force to be reckoned
So Valerie, give us the prognosis, how you are doing personally?
I've been battling lung
cancer since January 2013, and winning. Even though I shouldn't win,
because the kind of cancer I had is calledleptomeningeal
occurs in the lining of the brain, not in the brain; around the
brain and up and down the entire spinal column. It's a huge area.
The disease is
microscopic. You can't see it. It's "evidence," like footprints in
the snow. You can see little bits of white squiggle. That's protein
created by the cancer. So that's what the doctors are looking at,
and every single test has gotten better than the one before. Go
There has been some confusion about what you are suffering from.
lot of people think I have brain cancer. It was widely reported.
It's not in the brain, because if it was, they could take it out, or
they could radiate it.
But something is
happening, with the pills I am taking, that these cancer cells are
dying. My doctor is great. He said, "Listen, Valerie, I've been
doing this for 30 years and I've never seen anybody like you."
Your husband, Tony, has been amazingly supportive and optimistic
during this whole ordeal.
People will say, "there is no cure," and Tony will say, "as yet."
How are you coping?
have an acupuncturist who is great, and I drink tea, and I do
visualization all the time, where I see myself killing the cells,
strangling them or kicking them or hosing them out of my head; all
kinds of scenarios of getting rid of them.
Your recent memoir,
I, Rhoda, shows us what a fighter you are, and how much you love
and live life.
was not desperate about doing something, like a bucket list or
anything, because I've lived a hell of a life.