Valerie Harper Has Brain Cancer, May Have Just 3 Months to Live

"I don't think of dying," Harper says

Valerie Harper has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and says that her doctors have given her as little as three months to live.

The 73-year-old actress, best known for her roles on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," the spinoff, "Rhoda," and "Valerie," told People that she has leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition in which cancer cells spread into the fluid-filled membrane around the brain.

She told the magazine she will try to face her last days with courage and humor.

"I don't think of dying," she said. "I think of being here now."

Although not a smoker, Harper survived a bout with lung cancer in 2009.

In recent years, she has guest starred on shows including "The Simpsons," "Desperate Housewives," and "'Til Death." She also authored the recent memoir, "I, Rhoda."

After starting her career as a dancer, she moved on to the stage and television, earning three Emmy Awards for best supporting actress for her work on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

That earned her a spinoff, "Rhoda," for which she won a lead actress Emmy in 1975. After Rhoda wrapped in 1978, she appeared in several films and TV movies, until returning in a new sitcom, "Valerie," in 1986.

The series was notable for occasionally delving into social issues. A 1987 episode centered on whether Valerie's son David (Jason Bateman) would have sex featured the first use of the word "condom" in primetime.

Harper left her own series after two seasons in a dispute over her pay, leading to one of the most famous cases of a show continuing without its lead. Sandy Duncan became the series' new lead in its third season, and the show was renamed "Valerie's Family" and then "The Hogan Family."