Being told she had incurable cancer and only three months to live was one of the worst moments
of Valerie Harper’s life.

There was “great fear,” the beloved actress, who played Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda, shares with Closer exclusively. “It was, Oh my God, I can’t believe I am dying.”

valerie harper

Valerie (left) on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1971.(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

But that was over two years ago — “two years and four months ago,” she corrects with pride — and Valerie’s still here and living her life to the fullest, despite her illness. “I am really holding my own,” explains Valerie, 75, who after successfully battling lung cancer in 2009, was diagnosed with Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare form of cancer that affects the outer lining surrounding the brain.

RELATED: Valerie Harper Battles Brain Cancer With an Upbeat Outlook

The TV legend, who gave an inspiring speech at the American Lung Association’s Lung Force Initiative on May 12, told Closer, “Every five minutes, every hour, every day, every year that you waste worrying about your cancer — you have forfeited time that you could have been alive having fun.”

valerie harper husband

Valerie with her husband, Tony, in January 2014.

Her spirits are high now, but when Valerie, her husband of 28 years, Tony Cacciotti, and their
blended family of five adult children received news of her heartbreaking diagnosis in 2013, they were stunned.

Tony took the news especially hard. “He was very, very upset about facing this. He said, ‘You’re not going to die, stop saying it,’ ” she recalls. “But I said, ‘I may be gone in three months, so what do you do?’”

To read the full story on Valerie, pick up the new issue of ‘Closer Weekly,’ on newsstands now!