He cared for her till she lost her battle to cancer in 2019.
In 2009, actress Valerie Kathryn Harper was diagnosed with early lung cancer, even though she had never smoked. Her surgeon removed a lobe of her lung, and subsequent tests revealed that her chest was clean. She kept her condition a secret until 2013 when she was diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis. According to the National Library of Medicine, "Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis is cancer involving the pia mater and arachnoid mater. Studies have shown that both solid tumors, including brain tumors and hematological cancers, can metastasize to involve the leptomeninges."
Harper was given three months to live with the deadly disease, but after eight months of treatment, she disclosed that her illness was in remission. She began using experimental cancer-fighting medications after receiving her diagnosis. She was interviewed for an NBC News documentary and was invited to compete on ABC's Dancing With the Stars, which she accepted since her doctors advised her to exercise.
.@ValerieHarper / Valerie Harper in 2013. This is a portion of a video segment filmed in Malibu.— Rhoda (@RhodaTVShow) July 2, 2022
--#ValerieHarper #Rhoda #RhodaMorgenstern #TheMaryTylerMooreShow #liveinthemoment #stayinthemoment #classic #leadinglady #greatlymissed pic.twitter.com/LWvM3NptBm
Her spouse was always caring for her and making sure she was as comfortable as possible as she fought cancer. Even after physicians recommended that Harper be transferred to hospice care, her husband refused. He refused to listen to the doctors and insisted on doing what was best for his wife.
He wrote on Harper's Facebook page, "I have been told by doctors to put Val in Hospice care and I can’t [because of our 40 years of shared commitment to each other] and I won’t because of the amazing good deeds she has graced us with while she’s been here on earth."
She was born on August 22, 1939, and began her career on Broadway as a chorus girl and dancer. She also studied acting with John Cassavetes as one of her professors, had odd jobs, and was a hatcheck lady at Lutèce, reports Amomama. Not only did she make her way into the industry, but despite the cancer diagnosis, she also went on to become one of the most celebrated actors on TV with two Emmy Awards. Before her death, she had been appearing in TV series, and films, and even returned to Broadway in 2013.
Valerie Harper on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in episode "Toulouse Lautrec Is One of My Favorite Artists" from season 1.— Rhoda (@RhodaTVShow) July 5, 2022
--#ValerieHarper #Rhoda #RhodaMorgenstern #MaryTylerMoore #TheMaryTylerMooreShow #classic #tv #leadinglady pic.twitter.com/e69A8heTjW
After a lengthy fight with cancer, the actress died on August 30, 2019, at the age of 80. Her death was revealed on Twitter by her daughter. Cristina told Closer Weekly that her father has been so bereaved that he has been a little cut off from the world lately since he has been so preoccupied with taking care of Valerie.
Cristina said, "She said that we should be focused on our lives here and making the best out of any situation. She believed that when you pass on you only go somewhere else."
Even when she was down she danced and showed the world that she refused to let cancer beat her. Now Rhoda is with Mary in heaven. RIP Valerie Harper. You were the epitome of strength and humor. 😢🤟🏻 pic.twitter.com/CEGWl4hfhA— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) August 30, 2019
Harper's husband also found it extremely hard to pay all the medical expenses for his wife's treatment. While the couple's friend Deanna set up a GoFundMe page on Harper's behalf more than a month before her death, the page was taken down when people of the entertainment world offered to help with Harper's medical needs, reports PEOPLE.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Noam Galai