Valerie Harper: Terminal Diagnosis 'Hit Me Like A Sledgehammer'

Valerie Harper attends Betty White's 90th birthday celebration 'A Tribute To America's Golden Girl' at Millennium Biltmore Hotel on January 8, 2012 in Los Angeles Valerie Harper attends Betty White's 90th birthday celebration 'A Tribute To America's Golden Girl' at Millennium Biltmore Hotel on January 8, 2012 in Los Angeles

Valerie Harper was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer on January 15 and the actress says hearing the news from her doctors was overwhelming.

“[The diagnosis] hit me like a sledgehammer,” Valerie — who recently penned a new book, “I, Rhoda,” — told People.

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Her doctors explained that the type of cancer she has is very rare and progresses quickly – giving Valerie, 73, as little as three months to live.

“’Incurable’ is such a concise word,’” she told the mag, as her eyes filled up with tears. “I was terrified.”

Now, Valerie – who played the beloved Rhoda Morgenstern on “Rhoda” (as well as on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”) wants to give back to her fans while she still can.

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“All my life, people have had a connection to me because of Rhoda,” she told the mag while gathering old scripts from her shows, which she said she recently brought into her house from the garage, in order to organize them in her final days. “Now there are things I want to share.”

Additionally, Valerie will be joining us on Access Hollywood Live on Tuesday — tune in!

-- Erin O’Sullivan

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