Valerie Harper, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in January 2013, is almost in remission, says her doctor. Back in March, Harper was given just three to six months to live.
"I'd say that we're getting pretty close to a remission," Harper's doctor, neuro-oncologist Jeremy Rudnick, told NBC News Aug. 29. "It defies the odds. But the problem is, anytime this could change."
Harper, 74, has been treating her leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare incurable brain cancer, through a combination of chemotherapy, acupuncture and Chinese herbal teas. So far, the cancer has been reacting well to treatment, but her doctor cautions that Valerie is not cancer-free, nor is she cured.
Rudnick says Harper's cancer is still terminal because the disease will eventually become resistant to treatment over time or could recur. For now, however, the actress has definitely extended her life. "It's not a matter of if [the cancer becomes resistant to treatment]," Rudnick explained. "It's a matter of when."
Still, Valerie's husband of 26 years, Tony Cacciotti, is thrilled with the news. "Going from having three months to live or less, we're into our sixth month. And now we're looking at [Christmas]," he gushed. "This is overwhelming."
Since the cancer diagnosis, Harper has been busy promoting her memoir ("I, Rhoda") and shooting guest appearances on TV shows. She is also training to compete in season 17 of "Dancing With the Stars," which premieres Sept. 16.