BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -
Nine months after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer TV-icon Valerie Harper made her debut on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’
The actress, who was only given three to six months to live is now helping to bring hope.
Cancer patients and fans of DWTS are learning an important lesson about being strong and never giving up.
Maricela Perez can relate to Harper’s battle with cancer.
“It’s a little sad because I know what I’ve been through, I know what she might be going through,” she said.
Perez was diagnosed with a different type of brain cancer, which was difficult to explain to her teenage son.
“It was difficult, I sat him down and talked to him, just me and him alone, talk to him about what was going to happen. He thought I was dying, but I wasn’t dying. ” she said.
The cancer was treated using the Cyberknife Robotic Radiosurgery System. Its one of only 150 machines worldwide and the first in Kern County.
“Valerie Harper has what we call leptomeningeal carcinomatosis disease, which means the original tumor was in the lungs, and then it spread to the meninges which are the membranes to the brain,” said Dr. Ajay Desai of the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center.
Doctors say watching the 74-year-old television actress whose cancer isn’t quite in remission will help inspire others to be strong and continue fighting.
“A lot of people feel that once they have diagnosis of cancer it is the end all. I think, we are here all of us to enjoy the life today and live life to the fullest. I think that’s the key lesson from Valerie Harper that we can all learn,” he said.
Perez says the key to her own recovery is much like Harper’s, staying busy and keeping her mind off the real problem. She’s rooting for Harper both on the dance floor and in real life.
“That she keeps going and doesn’t stop just because her diagnosis,” she said.
The 30 to 90 minute Cyberknife procedure is painless and delivers between 100 to 200 radiation beams to the tumor that each last up to 15 seconds.
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