One word comes to mind when I reflect over the past six years: resolve. As a noun, it means “a firm determination to do something” and as a verb, to “find a solution.” Today, on this memorable day in history, I implore you to celebrate it as both.
As a nation, our resolve began long before the creation of the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation. Some of those beginnings link back to President Nixon’s declaration of the “War on Cancer,” or even with the discovery of John Kanzius and “a better way.” Every year, more than 500,000 Americans die from cancer. These victims and their loved ones have served as the source of our resolve.
As this horrid disease gained prominence in the medical community, the word “cancer” was rarely used. Now, this name is used interchangeably with every ailment that has mutations. However, the evident truth remains that there is a dire need for “a better way” of treatment. This truth is precisely why the Kanzius Foundation was created: to raise national and global awareness of the potentials of the Kanzius Noninvasive Radiowave Cancer Treatment and to raise the funds to help accelerate the speed at which research progresses through human trials. A succinct and sunset-driven mission.
It all began when an Erie, Pennsylvania businessman, John Kanzius, was diagnosed with a rare form of B-Cell leukemia and consequently set out to find “a better way” to treat the disease.
Taking an idea from concept to market is no easy task— especially when you are trying to survive your own personal battle with cancer. John sought the public support of elected officials, the local media, friends and the communities in which he lived – Erie and Sanibel, Florida. He was relentless and never allowed naysayers to discourage him from his core mission. Despite John’s resolve, time was against him. He had created a for-profit company, ThermMed, to take the technology and device to market. John sought community support to fund the bench-side clinical research to “prove” the treatment concept. The public response was overwhelmingly positive. Volunteers from around the world engaged friends to conduct grassroots fundraisers and families of cancer victims directed memorial gifts in lieu of flowers to the research. The donations raised always went to other nonprofit institutions conducting the research, never to John’s company or family.
During John’s final days, a group of Erie community leaders and friends set up the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation in 2008, a registered 501c3 non-profit organization to keep the dream alive. It would take many more people than those in the small communities of Erie and Sanibel to fund the necessary research to prove John’s idea. The Kanzius Foundation’s charter was clearly written with the ultimate goal to complete the pre-clinical work and “go out of business” – a rare nonprofit model.
Following John’s passing, the organization had to restart, redefine and recommit. They hired me as their first executive director from Washington, DC to take the message of “a better way” globally. I was given a succinct goal: fund all of the research necessary. By integrating multiple communication platforms, the Kanzius Foundation captured the hearts and imaginations of countless people around the world with a new concept: “destroy the cancer cell, not the patient.”
The Kanzius Foundation was committed to updating donors, sharing relevant news to the cancer community and funding the research. Existing donors were contacted via direct mail while social media was leveraged to engage a new viral audience. Each person was unapologetically “asked” for donations on a routine and consistent basis.
As you reflect back over the years, think of the Pepsi Refresh Project, Leslie Stahl and 60 Minutes, the Lester and Sue Smith Pink Well Challenge, the Ellen DeGeneres Award competition, Glenn Beck’s Night of Big Dreams, faces2012 and the Million Dollar Challenge. All of these platforms allowed the global audience to grow, which in turn heightened the level of donations received.
Throughout the project’s existence, more than $16 million was contributed to make essential research possible and proving John’s better way. This resulted in more than 25 peer-reviewed, published manuscripts in scientific and medical journals – a key element in securing FDA approval for human trials to be initiated.
This past May 20th, our Board of Directors announced that a final study was being conducted and that Dr. Steven Curley’s lab has received all of the funds necessary to take the Kanzius technology to the FDA. On the heels of that announcement, we can confidently say that our mission is complete and we are closing our doors today.
To keep true to our mission and to honor the wishes of John Kanzius, we have set up three special funds that will assist in facilitating Phase II human trials in Erie, Southwest Florida, and at several additional to-be-selected sites. All remaining assets and donations will be granted to these new funds. Details on how you can continue giving toward the next phase of human trials can be found on Kanzius.org.
For the duration of our work, your stories have been our inspiration, our resolve. YOU have brought the Kanzius technology to this new milestone. Your dedication, generosity and support have given countless cancer patients and their loved ones hope. “A better way” has never been closer. It has been both exciting and humbling to lead the TEAM Kanzius wave-makers and today, as we hand the baton over to those responsible for the next stage, please, resolve to resolve!
MARK A. NEIDIG SR. has been the executive director of the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation since 2009. Today’s MAKING WAVES OpEd will be his last in that role. (MNeidig@Kanzius.org).