Valerie Harper inspires cancer survivors, others

PHILADELPHIA, PA.; Sept. 16, 2013

In March, we reported Valerie Harper has incurable cancer.

Harper had lung cancer a four years ago. After surgery, she was cancer-free. But now the cancer is in the lining of her brain.

In spring, she was given just months to live, but is already beating the odds. And she is inspiring other people also battling cancer


"The fact that other people have experienced the fatigue, pain," says Maria Kelly, young mother and cancer survivor.

Inside the Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia, men and women battling cancer lean on each other.

Today they invited me to join. because on topic is 74-year-old actress, and cancer patient Valerie Harper, and her decision to compete on ABC's hit dance show.

"Dancing With the Stars"? And she is doing that. I think that's great," says Maria Burrell, another survivor.

She and many others find Valerie an inspiration, staying true to her word that she would live every day to its fullest.

"Everybody - don't go to the funeral till the day of the funeral," as she told Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts in March, shortly after she went public with her struggle.

Those words and Valerie's zest for life also encourage everyone to enjoy the moments.

Maria Kelly muses, "Even the craziness of raising small children, there are days it is crazy but I am glad and grateful for that moment."

Fredi Feldman has been battling cancer for 16 years - a soft tissue tumor thats spread.

"Bones, liver, lungs," she says.

Fredi says it's a reminder about the power of setting goals.. For Valerie it's "Dancing with the Stars." For Fredi it's being here to welcome two more grandkids.

"My goal is to see my son and daughter in law in utero twins be born and to help afterwards," she says.

For many in the group, they also say seeing Valerie dancing is a sign of progress in the fight against cancer.

"When you get close to it and hear stories you know there is progress. And everyone needs to see that," says Ray Kemp, who was diagnosed with stage 4 head & neck cancer.

Kemp told Action News that in some ways, cancer has been a blessing. he said it gave him the opportunity to bring more focus to the priorities of life.

As a nurse, I can attest to the power of setting goals. Many cancer patients do it, to help them look beyond their diagnosis and treatment. It may not be dancing on national television but something like going back to work or attending a graduation can make a huge difference.

For more information, contact the Cancer Support Community.

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