Lynette Rice
September 06, 2013 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Less than a week after her doctor told NBC’s Today that Valerie Harper’s brain cancer was ”pretty close to remission,” the former Mary Tyler Moore Show comedian was named one of 12 celebrities who’ll vie for the Mirror Ball Trophy in the new season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, beginning Sept. 16. Contestants like Elizabeth Berkley (Showgirls), Corbin Bleu (High School Musical), Amber Riley (Glee), singer-songwriter Christina Milian, former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, and Brant Daugherty (Army Wives) might have youth and athleticism, but Harper, 74, enters the competition with the best wishes of the audience on her side. ”What tends to happen toward the end is that the best dancers come out. If Valerie is a strong dancer, she’s got a good chance of winning,” says executive producer Conrad Green. Among the other contestants: TV star (and recently, former Scientologist) Leah Remini, Jack Osbourne, Bill Nye the Science Guy, comedian Bill Engvall, and — God help us all — Nicole ”Snooki” Polizzi.

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