By Sue Botos
Linda Brown is usually not one to gamble, but she has been successful at least twice. A contest entry ended up in a shopping spree at Beachcliff Market Square. Another chance may be saving her life.
The Bay Village resident’s daughter had to convince her to place her name in the “All About Mom” drawing when they spotted the entry box at Ann Taylor Loft in Rocky River’s Beachliff Market Square before Mother’s Day.
“As we were walking out we walked right by the table, and my daughter (Liesl Glover) said, ‘Come on and fill it out. This time we’ll win,’” recalled Brown in a recent interview. Glover ended up filling out the form, and a few days later Bill Brink, Beachcliff’s marketing director, called and told Brown she was the winner.
“I asked, ‘Winner of what?’” said Brown, adding that it took awhile for the realization that she had scored the prize package, which included a shopping spree, lunch and spa treatment, to sink in.
When she finally realized that she had really won, Brown said that she was “amazed.”
“I’ve never won anything in my life,” Brown told Brink. But she shared with him the story of how she may be winning the battle for her life.
Diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia 17 years ago, Brown, 62, was given “a couple of months to a couple of years” to live. “Basically, I said whatever I need, let’s do it,” said Brown. She explained that the only treatment option presented was chemotherapy to lower her elevated white blood cell count “until the body won’t accept any more.” Due to a low rate of success for this form of the disease, Brown was not a candidate for a bone marrow transplant.
Undaunted, Brown began what she called an “intensive journey.”
“I went to Borders at Crocker Park and sat on the floor. I pulled out every single book (on alternative treatments). I had stacks on the floor, then I brought home stacks and read,” she explained.
Her research, Brown said, turned her scary diagnosis into the resolve to fight. Although she found some conflicting information, Brown said she was intrigued by the macrobiotic diet introduced to the U.S. in the early 1950s by a Japanese man, Michio Kushi.
“This wasn’t just a diet, we learned a way of life,” said Brown, who, along with her husband, traveled to the Kushi Institute in the Berkshire Mountains to learn the macrobiotic way. This theory stresses eating grains, vegetables and foods easily digested to achieve a balance.
“I felt good, but it did not cure me,” recalled Brown, adding that during her initial two-week stay, and later visits, she began to network with others. Although still a vegetarian, Brown does not adhere to the strict macrobiotic lifestyle.
Eventually, Brown was referred to Nikolaus Klehr, a German doctor specializing in “live blood vaccines,” which are based on the principle that everyone has cancer cells in their body, which are usually eradicated by specialized “killer” cells. When the disease forms, this mechanism is suppressed.
With Klehr’s therapy, a patient’s blood is drawn, sent to a lab, and cultured to encourage the growth of the “killer” cells. The vaccine is then infused back into the patient, boosting the compromised immune system.
“This creates a war between the good and the bad cells,” explained Brown, emphasizing that the infusions encourage the body to do what it should be doing naturally.
Brown said family and friends chipped in for her initial visit to Klehr’s clinic in Austria, where, accompanied by her mother, she stayed for one month. “For 11 years now, I’ve been going backwards,” she said of her leukemia’s regression, which has stumped her doctors at the Cleveland Clinic.
In fact, her Clinic doctor was so impressed with Brown’s progress that he contacted her insurance company, requesting that at least some of the treatment be covered. The request was denied on the grounds that it was “experimental.” Brown added that her local doctor and Klehr talk by phone on a regular basis.
Brown continues to visit Klehr’s clinic three times a year and has gotten to know other patients who, despite the language barrier, share their hopes and plans. Sometimes a familiar face is missing. The therapy has had good results, but is not a guaranteed cure. But Brown will continue to fight, and enjoy life’s pleasures like the “All About Mom” prizes. She said that she had to take a rain check on the massage because a recent car accident had left her with whiplash, but it was still a memorable day.
“I was tired, but it was fun spending the day with my daughter,” she said.