Actress Valerie Harper beat lung cancer in 2009, but in 2013, she was given only three months to live after being diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis—a rare complication of cancer that spreads to the membranes surrounding the brain. However, she has defied the odds and even participated as a contestant on the 17th season of Dancing With the Stars.
Sadly, Harper, known for her roles as Rhoda Morgenstern in the television series The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoff Rhoda, is near the end of her life after a six-year battle with terminal brain cancer.
Doctors treating the 79-year-old actress have recommended that she should be placed in a hospice. Yet, her husband, Tony Cacciotti, refused.
Wow it seems just like yesterday I was taking promo shots like this for the Mary Tyler Moore Show! How the time flies! #ThrowBackThursday #TBT #LiveLifeFully #ValerieHarper
Tony Cacciotti revealed why he “can’t” and “won’t” do that despite recommendations from doctors in an emotional Facebook post on Valerie Harper’s official 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,” Cacciotti wrote.
“We will continue going forward as long as the powers above allow us, I will do my very best in making Val as comfortable as possible,” he continued.
Cacciotti, who married Harper in 1987 and had a daughter together, explained he wants to stay by Harper’s side as it’s difficult for him to let go of his wife of 32 years.
“For those of you who have been in this position, you will totally understand that ‘it’s hard letting go,’” he wrote. “So as long as I’m able and capable, I’ll be where I belong right beside her. Many, many thanks for your outpouring of kindness and support.”
Message from Tony CacciottiI have been told by doctors to put Val in Hospice care and I can’t [because of our 40 years…
Cacciotti’s post has gone viral, garnering thousands of likes, shares, and comments. Many of Harper’s fans chimed in under the comments section to encourage Cacciotti.
Some fans commented hospice shouldn’t be feared. “Hospice is a beautiful thing and the most loving final loving act you can provide for your beautiful Valerie. It’s not abandonment or giving up , but is compassionate acceptance to care for your beloved as well as can be done until God takes her home,” one wrote.
As many of you know, to me, lung cancer is personal. That’s why this #GivingTuesday. I’m supporting LUNG FORCE. Join me…
A few fans suggested home hospice. “Hospice can come in and support you both as you all support Valerie. It can be a huge blessing to have them help you navigate the days to come. May you see the gifts as you walk this sacred ground together,” one said.
Meanwhile, others were impressed by Cacciotti’s love for Harper. “So beautiful Tony to see your pure love and caring heart for your beautiful wife. Where there is life, there is Hope. I love how you are right beside her in her battle. Prayers for a miracle and healing for beautiful Valerie,” one remarked.
Surviving #lungcancer is my hardest role yet. So I’m raising my voice for LUNG FORCE to help fight the #1 cancer killer…
Harper, a four-time Emmy winner, has previously told media outlets her husband was the secret to why she has made it through her health ordeal all these years.
“He’s such a nudge,” Harper said of Cacciotti, in an interview with People in 2017. “He does everything for me, drives me everywhere, makes sure I’m eating healthy, walking and lifting weights. Really, he’s the best nudge in the world.”
“My husband watches me very carefully,” she told Broadway World. “The support has been incredible. I married a great guy and it’s working well.”
Without a shadow of a doubt, Cacciotti’s love for Harper will bring her comfort during her final days of life. Thank you Cacciotti for loving our beloved actress “in sickness and in health.”