John Kanzius, K3TUP, of Erie, Pennsylvania, passed away February 18 in Florida from pneumonia. He was 64. Kanzius was best known for his research into finding a cure for cancer using radio waves, specifically 13.56 MHz.
In 1966 at age 22, Kanzius came to Erie, Pennsylvania to work for JET Broadcasting. After 24 years as a broadcast engineer, he was appointed vice president and general manager of the company in 1980. After retiring to Florida, Kanzius was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002. He summarized his chemotherapy in a February 2008 article in QST as "Hoping we kill the cancer before we kill the person." In October 2003 -- thinking there had to be a better treatment -- Kanzius had the idea to kill the cancer cell with radio waves, not a new idea. But Kanzius went a bit further: Instead of using needles, as was currently used, why not "trick" the cancer cells into absorbing a metal target -- sent by RF -- into the inside of the cancer cells, leaving the healthy cells alone?
In 2005, Kanzius teamed up with cancer researchers at M. D. Anderson (part of the University of Texas health system in Houston) and Rice University (also in Houston). Using nanoparticles -- metallic objects measured in billionths of an inch -- heated by RF using a machine that Kanzius invented, the researchers were impressed: "The research scientists at Rice were stunned to see that my device could heat nanoparticles at the 13.56 MHz frequency," Kanzius said.
Kanzius credited his father for his inspiration: "Trying to build an array that would heat particles one billionth of a meter in length was challenging. But building equipment all of my life was inspired by my dad, W3NRE, who was licensed in 1934."
Kanzius told ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, that if it were not for his Amateur Radio background, "and all the days of experimentation to improve my station, this new procedure for treating cancer, which continues to show such promising results, would probably not be on the cutting edge at the largest cancer center in the world [M. D. Anderson]."
But Kanzius did more than just try to find a cure for cancer. In 1991, he was Top of Honor Roll in the ARRL DXCC program; at his death, he had 347 countries confirmed. In the March/April 1987 issue of NCJ, Tim Duffy, K3LR, described K3TUP as "a relatively new contest call," but said Kanzius had been DXing for many years: "As he has caught the contest bug, John has taken a station which was designed for busting DX pileups and converted it over to have the flexibility and brute force required to compete in Multi-Single contesting." Duffy described the station as sitting "situated on a high ridge that overlooks Lake Erie. The station is well secluded from city-type radio noise and the rural setting allows John to run several temporary beverages for low band receiving." Both Duffy and Randy Thompson, K5ZD, have operated from Kanzius's station.
Pitts recalled that in 2007, he received an e-mail from a ham, asking if he was aware of the research Kanzius was attempting: "I looked at the attached video clip and I was skeptical. But I became more curious about this kitchen table tinkerer-ham and investigated the claims. I learned two major things: First, this was not a harebrained scheme -- it really worked (!), and -- even more important for me -- John Kanzius was a true gentleman. Bright, polite and enthusiastic without being overbearing, I liked him. Over the next months as I wrote the QST article about his work, I came to know him and his true desire to help other cancer victims. Since then, we stayed in touch by phone and e-mail. I enjoyed his delight as each step in the process of bringing his machine and concept to human use was proven by M. D. Anderson and other cancer research facilities. Some people just make your world better by being there. John was one of those people. Though I never met him in person, it was always good to hear from him and I enjoyed the friendship. Losing him makes the world a little colder. I will miss him."
Kanzius is survived by his wife Marianne, two daughters -- Sherry Kanzius and Toni Palmer -- and two grandchildren. Calling hours are Sunday, February 22 from 2-5 PM and 7-9 PM at the Duskas-Martin Funeral Home, 4216 Sterrettania Rd, Erie, Pennsylvania. A funeral service is planned for 10:30 AM on Monday, February 23 at the Episcopal Cathedral of St Paul, also in Erie. Memorial contributions may be made to the John Kaznius Research Fund, Palace Business Center, 915 State St, Erie, PA 16501.