Valerie Harper

Mary Tyler Moore 'absolutely devastated' by Valerie Harper's cancer diagnosis

March 7, 2013 at 8:45 AM ET

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Actresses Valerie Harper, left, and Mary Tyler Moore in 1975.

Actress Valerie Harper may have a positive outlook on her diagnosis of terminal brain cancer, but her on-and-off-screen BFF Mary Tyler Moore can't help but feel down.

"I'm absolutely devastated by this news," the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" star, who underwent surgery for a brain tumor in May 2011, told People magazine. "Valerie has given so much joy, laughter and love to the world. I join her fans and send much love and positive thoughts to her and her family during this difficult time."

Harper recalled phoning Moore the day before her news went public.

Valerie Harper: I have terminal brain cancer

"She said, 'What's up?' I said, 'It's incurable cancer.' She said, 'Val, I'm so sorry,'" Harper told the mag, who first broke the news in its latest issue. Before ending their phone call, "Mary said, 'One day at a time,'" says Harper. "That's how we've got to live our lives. That's the best we can do."

Harper explained that numerous tests showed she had leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare disorder in which cancer cells metastasize into the fluid-filled membrane enveloping the brain. Doctors have given her "as little as three months left to live."

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

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Image: Valerie Harper Book Signing For "I, Rhoda"
David Livingston
The Emmy Award-winning star of "Rhoda" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" boasts an acting career that dates back to the 1950s.