The Mary Tyler Moore Show star, who played Rhoda Morgenstern on the hit U.S. series and spin-off Rhoda, reveals she was diagnosed with the disease in 2009 while preparing for her role as Tallulah Bankhead in a theatrical production of Looped.
Speaking about her new novel, I, Rhoda, during an appearance on U.S. breakfast show Good Morning America on Monday, she says, "At that time I was playing Tallulah Bankhead, who is a veteran smoker, drinker, cocaine taker, curser, wild woman... (and) I thought this is not going to be good for comedy, if the audience is out there worrying about their Rhoda.
"(My husband) Tony and I decided to keep it quiet. And then it's great fodder for a memoir, and to tell people to get tested. Women who don't smoke have got to get tested. I was saved from chemo and radiation (treatment), and I thought this was the time to share it."
But the 73 year old's medical problems are far from over - she suffered another scare last week when she was hospitalized over fears of a stroke.
She adds, "The interesting thing was I had done a bunch of tours for the book, every 10 minutes you do an interview, and I had done about 12 or 15 of them in the morning, went to rehearsal and then it was as if I had Novocaine. I thought, 'What the heck is happening?' I went to the hospital and they couldn't find much of anything. It definitely was not a stroke, as Tony had feared. Now I'm still awaiting test results."