I scoffed at the idea of having celebrities as heroes. My attitude was that they are regular people just like I am. After hearing of Valerie Harper’s diagnosis with terminal cancer I had a change of heart – and maybe it was because I was going through something at the same time.
First, my big news: I was anxious about having wisdom tooth surgery. Yes, it is laughable when you compare it to brain cancer treatment but it had me worried. And it was thanks to Harper and her courageous remarks in interviews about getting through tough times – and the sheer sadness of being told she only has three months to live – that made me snap out of my funk and come to terms with what I was going through.
Millions of people get wisdom teeth removed every year. It’s a standard procedure. One of my teeth was a concern to the dentist based solely on its closeness to my nasal cavity, but otherwise the surgery would be routine.
While my fears weren’t the pain of having my mouth drilled or seeing blood, it was actually the opposite. I was afraid to say or do something stupid when I was put under and not in my right mindset. (Hey, I’ve never claimed to be a logical, normal person.)
To hear Harper talk about how she is getting through, it made me laugh at myself that I was being so ridiculous with my fears.
Harper said, “I get terrified at night sometimes… and if I feel like crying, I do. If I feel like walking around the house taking deep breaths, I do. It’s not crazy to be afraid of death, no one wants to embrace it, I’m just saying, don’t let your fear of death rob your living now. That’s your real key, stay in the moment the best you can.”
I met Harper at Betty White’s 90th birthday party in Los Angeles. She was on my radio shows as we chatted on the red carpet (live.jbonair.com/betty.html). While I won’t say we are/were buds since we only talked for a few minutes, it does hit you when it is someone you’ve met – and who is a TV legend.
As Harper notes, we’re all going to die sometime. It’s inevitable. Nobody will beat death. But I can only imagine what goes through someone’s mind when they are given an expiration date.
I survived wisdom tooth surgery. Here’s hoping Harper’s positive outlook on life and inspirational words will see her through, too.