Valerie Harper's Cancer Is 'Close to a Remission,' Says Her Doctor

08/29/2013 at 11:45 AM EDT

Valerie Harper's Cancer Is 'Close to a Remission,' Says Her Doctor
Valerie Harper
Adam Rose/NBC
Six months ago, Valerie Harper was ready to say goodbye. But now, she has received some shockingly optimistic news.

The actress, 74, who was diagnosed last winter with a form of terminal cancer, showed striking improvement in her condition on a recent scan.

"I'd say that we're getting pretty close to a remission. It defies the odds," her doctor, neuro-oncologist Jeremy Rudnick, said in a taped segment on Thursday's Today show.

Harper, who despite her illness will reportedly be a contestant on the next season of Dancing with the Stars, has leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a form of cancer that strikes the membranes surrounding the brain.

In March, she was given three to six months to live. And while her disease is incurable, this latest news buys her more time.

"It's not curable, there's no question. It has to be managed," Harper says. Still, she and her husband, Tony Cacciotti, are clearly thrilled.

"Going from having three months to live or less, we're into our sixth month. And now there's even hope beyond that," says Cacciotti. "This is overwhelming."

"Spontaneous remission lives as a possibility," Harper told Today before learning of her recent improvement. "I think infinite possibility is beautiful in every area. A lot of stuff that looks impossible is not."

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