TODAY   |  March 11, 2013

Valerie Harper: ‘Incurable is a tough word’

The “Rhoda” star talks to TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie about the moment she found out she had a rare and terminal cancer, saying she plans to “live each moment fully.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> show exclusive, valerie harper speaking out just days after she revealed her fight against incurrable brain cancer . i visited with the actress and her family in her southern california form. she's battling laryngitis, unrelated, but she's open to every moment and possibility. valerie harper 's dining room table is overflowing with mementos from her career, a life's work that endeared her to millions, particularly her role as rhoda in "the mary tyler moore show " and its spin yourself " rhoda ."

>> what do you think i wore my rubber dress?

>> reporter: now the 73-year-old actress who just completed her memoir "i rhoda " prior to her cancer diagnosis is opened up about her diagnosis.

>> it's called if i get it, leptomeningeal carcinomatosis , the meninges that liquid area around the brain. it is incurrable. it is very rare and it was hard to detect because it was defused, it's all around. it's not in one lump.

>> when do you think the reality of it hit you?

>> i think then when i heard "incurrable." incurrable is a tough word, so is interminable. he said it could be a week, three months t could be several years. i have people with this disease who have lived much long.

>> to look at you one would never know there's anything going on.

>> that's true for a lot of people with cancer because a lot of friends are calling can i come by the house, are you in a wheelchair because they hear it as this death sentence, which is may be, but i'm not dying until i do.

>> are you hopeful in.

>> oh, sure, sure. more than hopeful, savannah, i have an intention to live each moment fully, like right now, all there is is savannah and val for me, that's what's going on.

>> she is an amazing woman, incredible spirit in the face of a terrible diagnosis. she's full of hope, she has a lot to say and we'll hear a lot more from her.