Valerie Harper: “I’m not dying until I do”

Valerie Harper: “I’m not dying until I do”

Many of us know Valerie Harper for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But we have yet another reason to be inspired by her.

In March 2013, Harper was diagnosed with an incurable brain cancer called leptomeningeal carcinomatosis. This particular cancer is very rare. It’s hard to detect and even harder to treat. Yet Harper refuses to let it define her and she has been able to lean on her husband for love and support.

“I’m not dying until I do,” she said in a recent interview with the TODAY show.

Kathy Hendrix, RN, BA, an oncology nurse navigator at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, has had a lot of experience working with patients who have similar diseases as Harper.

“As a navigator, I make sure that services and information are available to the patient and their family,” Hendrix says. ”It can be an extremely scary thing to hear your loved one has cancer. But it becomes especially important to know that your relationship to them is extremely significant at this time.”

MarySue Fidale, RNC, MA, LCPC, is a psychosocial coordinator who also works with stage IV patients cancer who have little predicted time to live.

“Like Harper, I encourage my patients to know that statistics are just statistics,” Fidale says. “Some may succumb to what is being told to them and others can outlive those statistics. Those who do best have a tremendous care and support team.”

“I have a patient now who was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer more than 30 years ago,” Fidale adds. “She survived her illness despite being told that her odds were six months. I can’t help but believe that her husband’s steady support and care helped in this miraculous recovery.”

Related Posts



  1. Emotional support and love make the difference. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Patti Krueger LeTourneau March 29, 2013 at 12:24 pm · Reply

    Positive attitude goes along way! My mom was given 6 months with stage IV lung cance and with the wonderful physicians at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital and her amazing positive attitude, she was with us for over 2 years!

  3. Its an indispensable for the doctors, nurses and other medical group to know for a particular story which related to their work and how they convinced a patients that they will be able to healed or its gonna be okay. Patients could think a positive mind if the doctors or nurses carrying the condition of their health.

Subscribe to health enews newsletter

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.