Valerie Harper is going strong, seven months after doctors gave her only three months to live.
The actress stopped by Access Hollywood Live on Thursday where she opened up about how her cancer treatment is progressing, how her illness affects her “Dancing with the Stars” training and why she thinks she’s been able to defy medical odds.
“I think [attitude] plays into everything in life – I really do, and not just for me personally,” Valerie, who is paired with Tristan MacManus on “DWTS,” told Billy Bush and Kit Hoover when asked why she believes her health is thriving. “I do think that my willingness to accept that there’s death, and it may be sooner, it may be later, but I’m going to live now [has helped].
“I think I would [suggest that mindset] for everybody,” she continued.
While Valerie – who is featured in an NBC News special, “Valerie’s Story – A Meredith Vieira Special,” airing Thursday at 10 PM – fights to maintain a positive outlook, she admitted she has had a few “pity parties” with regard to her terminal cancer diagnosis.
“Sure! Oh, yeah. Sure,” she replied, when asked if she ever gets “sad and mad” over the disease. “I don’t want to die!”
The actress is currently taking a “large dose” of medication once a week, which she strategically times with her “DWTS” performances in order to feel her best while performing on the show.
“After the [premiere] show, I took the pills that evening and I was OK,” she said. “I even rehearsed late on Tuesday. [It takes] 24 hours pretty much.”
Adding, “And I don’t feel sick or anything. Just a little dizzy, a little queasy, but nothing that I can’t just lie down in bed for a minute and feel better.”
As for her current prognosis, Valerie said her doctors have no idea what the outcome will be.
“They don’t know. Oncologists worth their salt say every case is different and we don’t know,” she said. “They know that in other [similar] cases people die quickly and some don’t… So, I don’t know.
“But [my doctor] did say, ‘See you at Christmas!’” she added with a smile.
Additionally, a paperback version of Valerie’s memoir, “I, Rhoda” (which features details of her diagnosis and illness), is now available.