September 09, 2013 09:24 AM by Suzy Kerr
Dancing with the Stars contestant, Valerie Harper, is not letting a terminal cancer diagnosis stop her from putting in the time and practice to take home the mirror ball trophy. In fact, she has inspiring words for the millions of fans who fell in love with her on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, who will now watch as she and her partner, Tristan MacManus, take on the competition in season 17.
In March, Valerie Harper, announced she had been diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis — a condition where cancer cells spread and surround the brain and spinal cord — and was given three to six months to live. Eight months later, the star of “Rhoda”, says her cancer not quite in remission, but it is getting there and now she has a message to share.
“I hope you dance! I hope you dance! And that’s what I’m saying to everybody, that’s just my message. Dance”.
When first approached by the producers of Dancing with the Stars, Valerie Harper was resistant. But her husband, Tony Cacciotti, pushed her to join the hit reality show.
“I said, ‘Give me one good reason,’ ” Harper recalled. “He said, ‘You have cancer! Get up there, and show people that you can dance and do — and the doctors said it’s fine to exercise.”
The grueling rehearsals are difficult for even healthy Dancing with the Stars contestants, who often rehearse up to four hours per day. Valerie is taking precautions with shorter rehearsal times and only performing on one show per week.
Season 17 of Dancing with the Stars premieres on Monday, September 16 at 8 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. CT on ABC
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Photo credit: ABC