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Valerie Harper: 'I want to inspire people with dancing gig'

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Sep 04, 2013 | 9:57am EDT

Actress Valerie Harper accepted the opportunity to be part of U.S. competition show Dancing With The Stars because she wanted to inspire people. It has been confirmed The Mary Tyler Moore Show star will be part of the season 17 cast, despite her terminal brain cancer battle. In an interview with People magazine, the actress, who was given just six months to live at the beginning of the year (13), says, "I thought it might be sort of inspiring for people to see a 74-year-old woman with my condition dancing." Last week (begs26Aug13), it was revealed Harper's condition was improving and her cancer was "close to remission," according to her doctors. However, her diagnosis could change at any moment. She explains, "My scans have been getting better. But cancer hides. My doctors say it's not a case of if (it's fatal), it's when. And I can live with that." For now, Harper is focusing on her health and the show, which is incidentally helping her to lose weight after gaining a few pounds during treatment. She continues, "They've forced me to get serious about dieting. Since I'm no longer on steroids, I've dropped 20 pounds, but I'd like to lose another 15. I told the wardrobe supervisor, 'Your job is take six inches off my butt'." Harper has been partnered with Tristan MacManus on the show, where she'll compete with celebrities like Showgirls star Elizabeth Berkley, Glee's Amber Riley, actress and former Scientologist Leah Remini, former Jersey Shore regular Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi and singer Christina Milian. Jack Osbourne, Corbin Bleu, actor Brant Daugherty, comedian Bill Engvall and sportsman Keyshawn Johnson will round out the cast, which will be lacing up its dancing shoes for the season premiere on 16 September (13).

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