Marilu Henner Helps Husband Beat Cancer

Encore: February 12, 2021

Marilu Henner, best known for starring on the hit sitcom ‘Taxi,’ joins us with her husband Michael Brown to discuss how they beat Brown’s bladder and lung cancer. And get this: they did it without chemotherapy or radiation. Together, they tell the story in Henner’s new autobiography ‘Changing Normal: How I Helped My Husband Beat Cancer.’

TRANSCRIPT

HER ACTING CAREER, PARTICULAR FOR HER ROLE IN 'TAXI.'

MORE RECENTLY, WELL-KNOWN FOR HER BEST SELLING HEALTH AND FITNESS BOOKS.

SHE'S ONE OF THE FEW PEOPLE IN THE WORLD KNOWN TO HAVE HIGHLY SUPERIOR AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORY, WHICH ALLOWS HER TO RECALL ALMOST EVERY DAY OF HER LIFE.

THOSE MEMORIES OF HOW SHE AND HER HUSBAND STOOD TOGETHER IN THE FACE OF CANCER AND TRIUMPHED WITHOUT CHEMOTHERAPY OR RADIATION IS THE SUBJECT OF THEIR NEWEST BOOK.

WE ARE DELIGHTED THAT MARY LOU HENNER AND MICHAEL BROWN ARE WITH US TO TALK ABOUT THIS.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.

VERY HAPPY TO HAVE YOU FOR SO MANY REASONS.

LET'S SET THE STAGE TO UNDERSTAND THIS BOOK AND UNDERSTAND THE RELATIONSHIP HERE.

I ASK YOU TO TELL THE STORY.

YOU HAD KNOWN EACH OTHER YEARS BEFORE.

RIGHT.

WE KNEW EACH OTHER IN COLLEGE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, COLLEGE FRESHMEN.

RAN INTO EACH OTHER AFTER I LEFT SCHOOL TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL ACTRESS.

I WAS GETTING MARRIED TO MY FIRST HUSBAND.

WE RAN INTO EACH OTHER IN THE HALLWAY IN NEW ORLEANS, FAR FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO.

AFTER MY SECOND DIVORCE WAS FINAL, SIX MONTHS LATER, 2003, MICHAEL CALLED ME.

WE HADN'T SEEN EACH OTHER IN 22 YEARS.

IT WAS SHOCKING TO ME.

HE CALLED.

I WAS EXCITED BECAUSE I HAD A SPECIAL FEELING ABOUT HIM.

WITHIN A WEEK, WE WERE SAYING I LOVE YOU, WE WILL SPEND THE REST OF OUR LIVES TOGETHER.

TWO MONTHS INTO OUR RELATIONSHIP --

LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT.

YOU HAVE WHAT SOUNDS LIKE A MARVELLOUS STORYBOOK GETTING BACK TOGETHER HERE, THE THUNDERBOLT STRIKES YOU BOTH.

ANOTHER THUNDERBOLT HITS YOU, MICHAEL.

EXACTLY.

TWO MONTHS INTO OUR RELATIONSHIP, I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH ADVANCED STAGE BLADDER CANCER.

IT WAS VERY SHOCKING.

I HAD BEEN SYMPTOMATIC FOR TWO YE Y YEARS.

I WENT TO MY UROLOGIST.

HE KEPT MISDIAGNOSING ME.

HE RETIRED, WHICH MEANT I GOT A NEW SPECIALIST.

HE WENT IN AND IMMEDIATELY FOUND THE CANCER.

THERE I WAS WITH ADVANCED STAGE BLADDER CANCER AND A NEW RELATIONSHIP.

FORTUNATELY, YOU HAD THE SECOND PART.

I WILL ASK YOU TO EXPLAIN FOR US THE TITLE HERE, 'CHANGING NORMAL.'

I WANT ABOUT SPECIFICS.

TITLES ARE FASCINATING AND COMPELLING WHEN YOU TRY TO GET A SENSE WHAT HAVE THEY MEAN.

WHAT DOES 'CHANGING NORMAL' MEAN?

IF YOU THINK OF YOUR BODY AS A FIELD OF SOIL, IT'S NOT ENOUGH JUST TO CUT OUT THE WEED AND CONTINUE DOING WHATEVER YOU WERE DOING FOR THAT FIELD OF SOIL SO YOU GET MORE WEEDS.

THE IDEA OF DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY, LOVINGLY TENDING TO IT, PUTTING IN DIFFERENT FERTILIZER, SOME KIND OF CHANGE OF THE NORMAL OF WHAT IT IS YOU ARE DOING IF YOU WANT A NEW RESULT.

WHAT HAPPENED WAS, THERE WAS SOMETHING IN MICHAEL'S FAMILY DIAGNOSED AROUND THE SAME TIME.

HER DOCTOR SAID, WE WILL GIVE YOU CHEMO, SURGERY.

YOU CAN GET BACK TO NORMAL IN NO TIME.

I SAID TO MICHAEL, NO.

YOU CAN'T GO BACK TO NORMAL.

SHE HAS TO MAKE CHANGES.

YOU HAVE TO CHANGE NORMAL, OTHERWISE YOU WILL END UP WHERE YOU WERE.

THAT'S HOW THE TITLE OF THE BOOK CAME ABOUT.

WHEN YOU LOOKED THE TWO OF YOU TOGETHER AND LOOKED AT YOUR LIFE AND NOW YOU ARE LOOKING AT SOME DIFFICULTIES THAT YOU ARE EXPERIENCING HERE, WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AT YOUR LIFE -- MICHAEL, I WILL ASK YOU FIRST, THEN MARY LOU.

WHAT DID YOU FIND ABOUT HOW YOU HAD BEEN LIVING YOUR LIFE THAT YOU CAME TO REALIZE NEEDED TO GET CHANGED?

WELL, THAT'S A BIG PART OF THE BOOK IS HOW I GOT CANCER.

I FOUND OUT VERY EARLY IN MY HEALTH JOURNEY AFTER I GOT DIAGNOSED THAT I NEEDED TO FIGURE OUT WHAT I HAD DONE, WHAT I WAS DOING TO CAUSE THIS CANCER OR AT LEAST GIVE IT THE OPPORTUNITY TO GROW LIKE IT DID.

I FOUND IN MY PAST TOXIC EXPOSURES, HEAVY METAL EXPOSURE, STRESS.

THIS HAD BEEN GOING ON MY WHOLE LIFE FROM CHILDHOOD.

FROM THAT EXAMINATION OF MY PAST, I REALIZED I NEEDED TO CHANGE MY FUTURE.

I NEEDED TO CHANGE MY NORMAL TO HAVE A FUTURE.

CERTAINLY.

MARY LOU, YOU HAVE SEEN YOU REFERRED TO AS A DOCTOR CONCIERGE.

YOU GET INVOLVED.

WITH ALL OF THE FOCUS YOU HAVE HAD RECENTLY ON HEALTH AND WELL-BEING, YOU NOW HAVE THIS LITERALLY IN YOUR HOME.

WHAT DID YOU BOTH DECIDE TO DO?

HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO FIGHT THIS, THAT CHANGED YOUR NORMAL?

WHAT HAPPENED WAS, I KNEW I WANTED TO TAKE MICHAEL TO MY DOCTORS.

I SAID, LET'S GO SEE SOME OF THE MORE CONVENTIONAL TYPES OF DOCTORS.

WE WENT TO SEE THE NUMBER ONE BLADDER CANCER SPECIALIST WHO HAPPENED TO BE IN LOS ANGELES.

WE WON'T TO SEE HIM.

WE WALKED IN AND IT'S THE INTRODUCTION OF THE BOOK.

HE SAID, THIS IS YOUR LUCKY DAY.

HE SAID, I HAVE A CANCELLATION WEDNESDAY.

HE TAKES OUT A DIAGRAM.

I WILL TAKE OUT THE BLADDER, THE PROSTATE.

I WILL PULL DOWN YOUR INTESTINE.

HE LOOKS IT UP.

WE HAVE THESE HORRIFIED LOOKS.

DON'T WORRY IF YOU WANT SEX.

WE WILL RUN A HOSE UP HIS PENIS.

CAN WE HAVE THE SEVEN PUMP?

WE ARE A SEXY COUPLE?

WHAT ABOUT HEALTH, NUTRITION?

HAVE ALL THE STEAK AND HIGHBALLS YOU WANT.

BYE.

WE WILL LET YOU KNOW.

WE WALKED IN SILENCE DOWN TO THE PARKING LOT.

MICHAEL SAID, I'M NOT LOSING MY ORGANS.

I SAID, I DON'T THINK YOU HAVE TO.

LET'S GO TO MY DOCTORS.

MY DOCTORS ARE INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE DOCTORS.

LOOK AT THE BODY HOLISTICALLY.

DON'T ISOLATE IT.

YOU MENTIONED SOMETHING.

WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT THE MESSAGE, SO PEOPLE UNDERSTAND, YOU ARE NOT SAYING NEVER GO TO A TRADITIONAL DOCTOR.

NO.

TELL US WHAT YOU ARE SAYING.

I'M SAYING, COMPLEMENT THE TYPICAL THERAPY.

DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR TYPICAL SURGERY OR CHEMO OR WHATEVER.

HE CHOSE NOT TO HAVE CHEMO AND RADIATION.

IT DIDN'T END UP NEEDING IT BECAUSE HE DIDN'T HAVE TO GO THROUGH SURGERY AND EVERYTHING ELSE.

HE WENT INTO REMISSION.

HE HAS BEEN IN REMISSION 12 1/2 YEARS NOT JUST ON BLADDER CANCER BUT LUNG CANCER WAS DIAGNOSED.

YOU GOT A DOUBLEHEADER.

I KNEW THAT I GOT INTO HEALTH BECAUSE MY PARENTS DIED YOUNG.

I FELT LIKE NO MATTER WHAT HE DECIDES TO DO, TRYING SOMETHING OF THESE OTHER THINGS CAN ONLY FORTIFY HIS IMMUNE SYSTEM AND MAKE HIM FEEL LIKE HE IS IN A LITTLE CONTROL, AS HE ALWAYS SAID.

YOU CHANGED YOUR NORMAL?

ABSOLUTELY.

I BEGAN CHANGING IT BEFORE THE DIAGNOSIS I GOT WITH MARY LOU AND SHE'S FORCEFUL ABOUT HER LIFESTYLE AND THE MAKEOVER SHE WAS TRYING TO WORK ON ME BEFORE THE DIAGNOSIS.

HAIR CUT, CLOTHES.

OVER THE YEARS, THE YEAR WE FOUGHT THE CANCER OR SIX MONTHS, I CHANGED MY NORMAL IN PROFOUND WAYS IN TERMS OF DIET AND MY HABITS, THE WAY I DEALT WITH STRESS, HAVING A LOVE OF MY LIFE IN MY LIFE AND HAVING SOMEONE TO LOVE AND SOMEONE TO LOVEP PROFOUNDLY CHANGED ME.

CANCER IS A CHRONIC DISEASE.

ONCE YOU GET IT, YOU NEED TO BE ON ALERT.

IF YOU CHANGE YOUR NORMAL, IF YOU HAVE DONE THINGS TO HELP THE CONVENTIONAL MEDICINE DO ITS MAGIC AND ACTUALLY GET INTO REMISSION, YOU NEED TO STAY VIGILANT OR IT WILL COME BACK.

NOT A ONE DISEASE APPROACH?

IT IS YOUR WHOLE LIFE?

HAVING TWO SEPARATE CANCERS.

I HAD TWO SPOTS TO WORRY ABOUT.

WE ARE GLAD YOU ARE DOING WELL.

THE BOOK IS 'CHANGING NORMAL.'

WE ARE GLAD YOU ARE WELL.

GOOD TO SEE YOU.

GOOD LUCK WITH THE BOOK.

THANK YOU.

APPRECIATE IT.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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