Valerie Harper was diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis in 2013

By Eric Todisco
July 25, 2019 01:57 PM

Ed Asner is spreading the love to his former The Mary Tyler Moore Show costar Valerie Harper as she struggles with cancer.

On Thursday, Asner, 89, shared a tweet honoring Harper, 79, just two days after the actress’s husband revealed that doctors had advised her to be moved to hospice care

“My heart goes out to @ValerieHarper and her husband Tony,” Asner wrote. “I hope you feel my love coming at you like a tidal wave.”

Asner and Harper starred together on the hit 1970s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Asner reprised his role as Lou Grant in his own spinoff series and remains the most honored male actor in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards, with seven wins.

RELATED: Valerie Harper’s Husband Says Doctors Want His Wife in Hospice Care But He ‘Can’t’ & ‘Won’t’ Do It

On Tuesday, Harper’s husband, Tony Cacciotti, shared a Facebook post in which he said that despite the doctor’s insistence that his wife of 32 years be moved to hospice, he was not willing to listen to them.

“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,” he wrote in the post.

While the couple’s friend Deanna started a GoFundMe on Harper’s behalf last week, the page, which had raised over $66,100 from Harper’s friends, family, and beloved fans, was shut down after members of the entertainment industry stepped forward to help with Harper’s medical expenses.

“She did so much for so many people and once they heard what was happening, they all started coming forward,” Cacciotti told PEOPLE. “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would happen like this. It’s really amazing.”

Tony Cacciotti and Valerie Harper 
Barry King/FilmMagic

“I just didn’t want to put her into hospice care and now we’re going to be able to keep her here at home,” Cacciotti added. “She’s hanging in there. We have good days and we have tough days.”

Harper was diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis in 2013, just four years after she beat lung cancer.

The condition occurs when cancer cells spread into the fluid-filled membrane surrounding the brain, known as the meninges.

At the time of her diagnosis, doctors told her she only had three months to live, but Harper beat the odds and continued to live well beyond their expectations by six years.

Because of how unbelievably rare her story is, Cacciotti said he refuses to give up on his wife.

“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,” Cacciotti wrote in the Facebook post. “There are two special ANGELS on this planet masquerading as humans who live and work together, that have made it possible to have all of Val’s needs taken care of.”

“For those of you who have been in this position, you will totally understand that ‘it’s hard letting go,’” he continued. “So as long as I’m able and capable, I’ll be where I belong right beside her.”

Valerie Harper 
John M. Heller/Getty Images

RELATED: Valerie Harper Reveals Mary Tyler Moore Inspired Her to Divorce Her Ex — and Find Love Again

Harper’s breakout role came in the 1970s while she was on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Her incredible performance as Rhoda Morgenstern earned her many awards, as well as her own spinoff show Rhoda, from 1974 to 1978.

The actress later went on to star in the 1980s sitcom Valerie, which was later titled Valerie’s Family and The Hogan Family, once Harper left the show.

After being diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, the actress defied the odds and lived beyond what doctors expected, but continued to undergo chemotherapy.

Speaking with PEOPLE in 2015, Harper explained that she was at peace with her diagnosis.

“I’m ready. I’m ready to go,” Harper admitted. “Maybe that’s the secret. That I’m absolutely – I don’t want to, my God, I want to live to be 102, but I am not banking on anything, really, because we shouldn’t. We don’t know what’s around the corner. I think you just take each day and get the best out of it and do what you can and have fun.”

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