Photo Credit: Adam Rose/NBC
Valerie Harper is a true inspiration. The Rhoda actress, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in January, has spent the last several days spreading her unique message of hope. During visits to People, The Doctors, Today and GMA, Harper, 73, has been reassuring fans that she's doing well, and encouraging us all to live life fully and not be afraid of death. Here are 10 lessons that we've taken away from Harper's amazing journey.
1. Don't blame yourself for tragedy. "If you die, you're not a failure," Harper said on Today. 'You're just somebody who had cancer. And that's the outcome."
2. Live in this moment, right now. "I'm not dying until I do," Harper told Today. "I have an intention to live each moment fully."
3. Remember that death is part of life. "I really want Americans, all of us, to be less afraid of death," Harper said on The Doctors. "Know that it's a passage, but don't go to the funeral before the funeral. While you're living, live."
4. Let yourself be sad -- but stay hopeful. "I don't mean this to be Pollyanna! I allow myself the grief," Harper told Today's Savannah Guthrie, when asked if she ever felt sad. "What I'm saying is keep your consciousness, your thoughts open to infinite possibility and keep yourself open to miracles."
5. Don't give in to despair when there's more pasta to eat. When Harper first heard her diagnosis, she said on The Doctors, "I broke down. I absolutely sobbed. I let myself do it. Then I said, 'Okay, you've been the drama queen. Now get over it and make the pasta.'"
6. Deal with your battles in the way that makes sense to you. When one of the Doctors asked Harper why she was spending her final days on a press tour, she responded, "Dr. Travis, this is not for everyone. This is my way of dealing with it."
7. Don't live in denial. "I'm trouble," Harper admitted in a video message for People, "but when the smoke clears, I'll be standing. Until I'm not. And I'm ready for that, too."
8. Don't forget to live just because you're dying. "'Incurable' is a tough word. A lot of people were calling -- 'Can I come by the house?' 'Are you in a wheel chair?' -- because they hear it as this death sentence," Harper said on Today. "Which it may be. But I'm not dying until I do. I promise I won't."
9. Never be afraid of what's next. "I don't know what's ahead, but I'm ready for it. Onward!" Harper told fans in her People message. "I love you. And know that I'm okay. I am okay on this venture."
10. Keep your loved ones close. Harper says she'll be spending her final months with her husband and daughter while she undergoes treatments to try and slow the progress of her disease. "My doctor said it's incurable -- so far," Harper said on GMA. "And I love that possibility. We all need to live in infinite possibility."
In addition to her inspiring words, Harper is taking this opportunity to campaign for universal health care. "Health care for all! I mean, I'm lucky: I have my union, I have the greatest husband in the world, and the wonderful Cedars Sinai hospital," she told People, "and that should be for everybody. It shouldn't just be for me."