Adam Taylor/ABC
Michael Fleeman
October 08, 2013 01:55 PM

Valerie Harper continues to stay positive.

The actress, 74, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer earlier this year, is keeping her chin up, following Monday’s early-season elimination on Dancing with the Stars with partner Tristan MacManus.

“I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I came to it open-armed because I see the show and I see the joy on the show,” Harper told PEOPLE backstage shortly after her dismissal. “And these wonderful dancers, week after week [are] breaking their whatevers to get a number [to] look right. They are great and I’ve enjoyed them very much. And then there’s my fellow people [who] I enjoyed meeting.”

And as she’s been doing all along, Harper continues to keep a smile on her face when it comes to her outlook on life.

“We should live every day like it’s our last,” she said. “We’re not promised next minute, next second. We’re all terminal, folks. You heard it from me first. No, really, you’ve heard it from many wise people. That’s a real live for the moment, be here now, don’t waste your time [kind of motto].”

Added the former costar of The Mary Tyler Moore show: “And my favorite [motto] that I invented, I think, is don’t go to the funeral until the day of the funeral. Why are you fearing death before? You don’t make it into a fetish of fear. You say, I don’t know what’s ahead, or let me do my best today. Let me do a favor. Let me forgive someone. Let me be grateful.”

Continuing to reflect on her time on ABC’s hit show, Harper said, “Let me say I’m so happy my knees are not broken. I’m going to go home and ice them and rest and I’m going to be fine.”

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