Before Norman deLeuze, Founder of ZD Wines, became a world-class vintner of Napa Valley, he graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Engineering and worked in aerospace “chasing Sputnik,” as he liked to say. Once in the wine business, his down-to-earth attitude was well suited to his approach to limited intervention winemaking and organic vineyard practices. One of his greatest legacies, however, may be his collaboration on research efforts as a lymphoma patient of UC Davis Research Oncologist Dr. Joseph Tuscano.
In December of 2003, Norman was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. For a health fanatic who took great care of himself (and planned to live to be 120 years old) the diagnosis came as a shock. In his initial consultations, Norman was told that without the help of chemotherapy and radiation he had approximately eight months left to live and, even with those treatments, the long-term prognosis was poor.
Norman’s response to the dark forecast was, “You want to Bet!” Not interested in conventional medical approaches because their toxicity typically results in weaker not stronger immune systems, he began researching – and trying – a host of alternative treatments to build his immune system and fight the cancer. During his battle, in addition to a regimented diet that avoided sugars and processed flour, Norman tried high doses of intravenous Vitamin C, nutritional supplements, infrared saunas, a fermented wheat germ product, radio wave treatments and more. Using his scientific background, he did his best to distinguish the promising approaches from the dubious ones though a lack of solid data was a constant frustration! “There are a lot of options out there but none of them have gone through clinical trials,” Norman said. “Basic research that can help people make a careful evaluation and decide what to try is missing.”
At UC Davis, Tuscano is seeking to close the gap. As the primary oncologist for deLeuze, Tuscano has been developing novel, immune-based therapies to treat lymphoma, including the use of monoclonal antibodies. He also studied a variety of natural, homeopathic compounds, including fermented soy products, in collaboration with two cancer center colleagues, molecular geneticist Philip Mack and urologic oncologist Ralph deVere White, the UC Davis Cancer Center’s Director.
In the summer of 2006, deLeuze prompted Tuscano to branch out and take a look at a natural product – fermented wheat germ extract. Rarely used here but more common in Europe, the compound, known in one form as Avemar, has not been studied in formal, pre-clinical or clinical studies according to Dr. Tuscano. Lab tests, however, have shown promising results in a handful of human cancers.
When deLeuze began taking Avemar, Tuscano monitored him closely and concluded that his patient’s lymphoma appeared to be shrinking. Tuscano then tested the product in the laboratory and discovered that it was, in fact, very active for the treatment of lymphoma, both in the test tube and in animal models. Based on the surprising and significant results, Tuscano began research for the active ingredient.
As an oncologist, Tuscano advises that his patients take a traditional approach to their cancer using proven strategies such as radiation and chemotherapy. In Norman deLeuze, however, the doctor saw someone determined to avoid the toxicity of traditional therapies no matter the risk. “He understands the consequences of avoiding the traditional therapies and is willing to accept those risks to identify less toxic treatments,” Tuscano said.
According to Norman, Dr. Tuscano, with his training, research record and interest in non-traditional responses to cancer was a perfect candidate for the deLeuze Family Endowment to find a non-toxic cure. Joining forces with UC Davis, Norman pioneered the UC Davis deLeuze Family Endowment for a Non-Toxic Cure for Lymphoma. The fund was launched in December 2006 with a donation of $313,000 by the deLeuze family, their winery and their friends. Through ZD Wines, Norman’s wife, Rosa Lee, and their three children, Robert, Julie, and Brett wish to continue their founder’s efforts in finding a non-toxic cure for lymphoma, the disease which claimed Norman’s life in October 2007. Having raised nearly $700,000 dollars, and with a goal of $1,000,000, we thank our supporters for continuing to join the family in the Non Toxic fight against lymphoma.
Or, donate directly to the Endowment by sending checks to:
deLeuze Family Endowment
C/O ZD Wines
8383 Silverado Trail
Napa, California 94558
Make checks payable to:
deLeuze Family Endowment
Mission Statement: "This endowment fund is established to recognize and further promote the outstanding research approach of Dr. Joseph Tuscano and the UC Davis Cancer Center in pursuing a non-toxic cure for lymphoma which will have widespread availability for lymphoma patients. When a cure for lymphoma is found, this fund will be designated toward non-toxic cures in perpetuity."