Having beaten the odds about six years after learning she had a rare brain cancer and given just months to live, TV icon Valerie Harper is turning to crowdfunding to pay for continued treatment her insurance does not cover.
“Valerie has been grateful over the years for the medical breakthroughs along this difficult journey, a friend identified as Deanna B. says in the Valerie Harper Cancer Support Fund GoFundMe page, which as of noon Wednesday had raised $42,420 of its pro forma $1 goal, contributed by 776 people in eight days. The four-time Emmy Award winner, 79, was diagnosed in January 2013 with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare cancer in which malignant cells invade the meninges, the fluid-filled membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
Harper’s insurance, however, “doesn't cover everything,” the GoFundMe notice continues. “There are unrelenting medical costs on a continuous basis. Valerie is currently taking a multitude of medications and chemotherapy drugs as well as going through extreme physical and painful challenges now with around the clock, 24/7 care immediately needed which is not covered by insurance.”
The crowdfunding initiative, the site said, had been launched by Tony Cacciotti, her husband of more than 30 years.
Harper, while undergoing treatment that her oncologist has said was making her close to remission, has continued to work. She appeared onscreen in 2013 as a woman with Alzheimer’s in the short “My Mom and the Girl,” and starred opposite Dick Van Dyke, Matthew Modine and Glenne Headly in the “Merry Xmas” segment of the ShortsHD compilation “Stars in Shorts: No Ordinary Love.” Her voice was featured on seven episodes of “The Simpsons” since the diagnosis, and she has providing voice parts for two episodes of “American Dad!,” the most recent airing in April.
The actress, immortalized as Rhoda Morgenstern on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and its spinoff “Rhoda,” successfully fought lung cancer in 2009.