Valerie Harper is excited to compete on season 17 of "Dancing With the Stars," and thrilled that her terminal brain cancer appears to be receding.
"I feel much better," Harper told People Sept. 4. "And my brain scans are looking better too. The doctors tell me there's less evidence of cancer, which is very unusual."
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 and is close to remission, but doctors caution that Valerie is not cancer-free, nor is she cured.
Still, it's a stunning turnaround from March 2013, when Harper was given less than six months to live. While her brain cancer remains incurable, she's ecstatic and grateful to have more time to enjoy life.
When asked why she agreed to compete on "Dancing With the Stars," Valerie said she won't allow cancer to keep her from living life to the fullest. "When they asked, I thought, 'Why would I say no?' " she recounted. "When life asks you to dance, you just have to dance.
"My doctors and neurologists, they are just delighted that I’m moving in the right direction. As my husband said, 'Let's just buy time, Val.' "
Despite her illness (for which she continues to receive medical and drug treatments) Harper is as giddy as a schoolgirl about the prospect of participating on a reality TV competition that's broadcast live every week.
The "Rhoda" star also wants to make sure she looks great for the show. "The other day I told the wardrobe supervisor, 'Your job is to take six inches off my butt,' " she laughed.
Season 17 of "Dancing With the Stars," which will feature Leah Remini and Snooki, premieres Sept. 16.