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.”
About the Author
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.