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UC Davis Health System

UC Davis Health System

Wine sales fund research on non-toxic treatments for lymphoma

Photo of grapevines Grapevines from ZD Wines.

When Norman deLeuze decided to follow his lifelong dream of becoming a vintner, he left a lucrative engineering career to do so, eventually turning his winery – ZD Wines – into one of the most successful in the Napa Valley. When he found out he had cancer, he focused that same determination on finding new ways to treat it.

“My father was not interested in convention in business or health,” said Norman’s son, Brett deLeuze. “He really wanted to help find new ways to treat lymphoma because of the toxicity associated with standard approaches. He believed in this so much that he took some risks with his own life in order to further new research and help others.”

Although Norman passed away on Oct. 26 at the age of 75, his family is honoring his life and commitment through fundraising for a family endowment that supports research at the UC Davis Cancer Center on alternatives to chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Norman’s wife, Rosa Lee, and his children — Brett, Julie and Robert — welcomed the community to a wine tasting and food-pairing event at their winery on Dec. 1, where they released their new 2004 ZD Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Proceeds from the event and from sales of ZD wines from Dec. 1 through Dec. 28 will help fund the deLeuze Family Endowment for a Non-toxic Cure for Lymphoma.

To achieve his goal of finding alternative cancer treatments, Norman partnered with UC Davis oncologist Joseph Tuscano, who for years had been developing novel, immune-based therapies to treat lymphoma, a type of cancer that results when a lymphocyte — a type of white blood cell — undergoes a malignant change and begins to multiply, eventually crowding out healthy cells and creating tumors.

Photo of Dr. Tuscano Joseph Tuscano

While Tuscano recommended more traditional therapies, Norman was determined to identify a different approach. He tried a multitude of non-toxic treatments, including high doses of vitamin C, nutritional supplements and, one which finally demonstrated great promise, Avemar, or fermented wheat germ extract.

“The Avemar was definitely having an effect on Norman’s disease, and what we learned together could have great outcomes for others who are seeking alternative treatments for lymphoma and other cancers,” said Tuscano. “Norman was a man of great pride, intelligence and conviction. It was an honor to care for him and to know him. He was not only my patient but also my friend and collaborator. He will be missed, but his spirit will live on as inspiration for my research.”

The Leukemia, Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma Program at UC Davis Cancer Center is the largest and most comprehensive program of its kind in inland Northern California. It provides advanced methods of diagnosis and treatment for both adults and children, including new therapies that often aren’t available at community hospitals. Program physicians have extensive experience treating both common and uncommon cancers of the blood, bone marrow and lymphatic system. For more information, visit www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/cancer.

Pictured on our home page from left to right are the deLeuze family: Rosa Lee and Norman, their daughter, Julie, their grandson, Brandon, and their sons, Robert and Brett.