Valerie Harper says she wants people 'to be less afraid'

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By Courtney Hazlett, TODAY

Valerie Harper remains forthright about her recent terminal cancer diagnosis in the second part of an extensive chat with TODAY's Savannah Guthrie. In a conversation about her rare cancer, the 73-year-old television icon said that she is happy being open about her fate.

"It has been so warming and so comforting and ... I feel the embrace," Harper said in an interview airing Tuesday. "It feels awful damn good to be open about it, face it and see what you can do."

Facing her diagnosis of leptomeningeal carcinomatosis -- which affects the membranes surrounding her brain -- Harper told Guthrie that she doesn't think about what-ifs, and is ready for what comes next.

"Forgiving is giving up the wish that things could have been different. They weren't. That's the past. Let it go. I have cancer. It's in my brain.... What are you gonna do about it?" Harper said. "I've had such a great run, Savannah. I'm going on 74. I want people to be less afraid. You know, that's ... that's really I guess why I'm sharing it."

Part of the "great run" Harper refers to includes her stint as Rhoda Morgenstern on "The Mary Tyler Moore show" and later its spinoff, "Rhoda." Rhoda, says Harper, has "been the wind and the sails of my career," a charmed time of life. "I didn't know (then that) 'I'm part of a classic,' you just know you're doing a wonderful show." 

Grateful for the past, Harper is now looking ahead, and doing so with a positive outlook despite her diagnosis. Harper recalled wisdom imparted by an internist, who Harper says told her, "'Valerie, anyone that's been in oncology for any number of years has seen spontaneous remission. They just have.' So what I'm saying, is keep your consciousness -- your thoughts -- open to infinite possibility and keep yourself open to miracles."

Read part one of Harper's interview on TODAY, and watch the videos below:

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