Marilu Henner's book 'Changing Normal' chronicles partner's unique path from cancer to health

Marilu Henner met Michael Brown in college. She had a crush on him but they were never a couple. In 2003 they reconnected and immediately became a couple. But two months later Brown was diagnosed with bladder cancer and then lung cancer. The "Taxi" star refused to lose the love of her life so easily so she set about finding a path for Brown that would use the best of Eastern and Western medicines to beat the cancer and return him to optimal health. The duo have written a book called "Changing Normal," that's part love story, part medical drama.

FOX 411: Do you think if you got together in college you'd still be together?

MARILU HENNER: Oh no, we probably wouldn't have had the life we had. Timing is everything. I think it's better the way it happened. I mean the cancer part we could have done without but it still makes for a very compelling story and it certainly made us appreciate our health even more.

FOX411: Michael it's pretty amazing that you were urinating blood for two years and your doctor said that was fine.

MICHAEL BROWN: Yeah it certainly tells you be careful what your doctor tells you. Did a little deeper, don't trust your doctor so much.

HENNER: I think you have to understand your own body, become your own health advocate, do research, get enough opinions and not think one opinion from a doctor is the end all and be all. We went to so many different doctors. You have to not be afraid of information. I think that's one of the biggest things for people. People would rather walk like lemmings off a cliff than hear the truth of either what they might have to change or something that they might have to do that might be a little bit different.

FOX411: You write about how you can get diagnosed with cancer but if you don't change your diet and lifestyle it will kill you.

HENNER: People think, God gave me the big C and they say it in hushed tones. Let's cut it out, let's burn it, poison it and let's get back to normal. No, run far away from that doctor who says, 'We're going to do these procedures and it's back to normal.'

FOX411: What was your lifestyle like before you got diagnosed, Michael?

BROWN: I think it was typical for a middle-aged American man. There was a time before that where I lived a pretty hazardous lifestyle and I think that all caught up with me eventually. When I met Marilu, I had settled down but I hadn't changed my eating habits. I was allowing too much stress in my life. I wasn't careful with choosing my doctors.

FOX411: Marilu when did you start a plant based diet?

HENNER: 1979. I gave up dairy on August 15th, 1979 which was a Wednesday. My children who are 21 and 20 have never had a glass of milk. The've never had a cheese burger, they've never had ribs, they've never had regular bacon.

FOX411: You must have been viewed as a nut job.

HENNER: Oh people thought I was crazy. People would call me
a few years into it and say, 'Are you fun again yet? Are you going to go back to your cheeseburgers and ribs?' Because I had a typical mid-western diet. That's why I dropped 54 pounds, my cholesterol dropped, everything changed about me when I changed my diet. Everything, my face, my breathing, my body.

FOX411: Michael did you find an immediate difference?

BROWN: Absolutely. Once I really changed my diet I was in the throes of my cancer treatment so it was a little bit hard to see the benefits. Generally I could feel I was feeling healthier all the time, I was tolerating the treatments better.

FOX411: Do you think the change in lifestyle saved your life?

BROWN: Absolutely. A lot of things saved my life but the the core thing was the change in lifestyle. Change in food, the hydration. The main thing was being with Marilu which is why the book is a mix of a love story and my cancer. Being with Marilu, being in a loving relationship, having her support was key in me beating it. I had been lonely and somewhat lost in my personal life before I got with Marilu.

FOX411: Marilu, did you have friends questioning why you were with Michael when he was sick?

HENNER: Oh yeah. People would say, 'Wait you guys have been together only two months? Nobody would be surprised if you just bailed.'

FOX411: The American diet does contribute to a lot of illnesses.

HENNER: And the crazy thing is people think it's something that God just pouffed on you. They don't take responsibility or maybe look at the things that they've been doing that may be could be tweaked and not even big sweeping changes. Little changes can make a huge difference.

FOX411: How long since you've had cancer?

BROWN: I had the surgery in 2003. I was in remission. Cancer is a chronic disease. I think it's something that you have to assume you have the rest of your life and you have to act as if you do. But I've been free so to speak since November 2003.

HENNER: We wanted to write the book right away but then we thought, no let's prove it by letting ten or so years go by.