Student loses his battle with cancer

Suzi Starheim

Friends and family paint the rock

College wouldn’t have been the same for Kyle Jacoby if it hadn’t been for Stephen Kanz.

“He was the person that took me in here at Kent,” Jacoby, a junior communication studies major, said. “I moved in next to him my first year, and that first day he was that person that came to me and invited me and accepted me, and for some reason saw something in me to always invite me out to stuff and keep me in the loop.

“I wouldn’t have half the friends I do now if it wasn’t for him,” he added.

They remained friends for his entire college experience, even when Steve was diagnosed with cancer in Spring 2008.

He beat the cancer twice, but it surfaced a third time at the beginning of this semester. Steve, a pre-business management major, died Saturday, March 20, at the Cleveland Clinic. He was 21 years old.

Steve attended Kent State after graduating from Olmstead Falls in 2006. He was a student off and on after he was diagnosed with cancer. He loved Rock Band, Guitar Hero, 30 Seconds to Mars, “Entourage” and intramural softball.

Jacoby was Steve’s roommate on College Street.

“My freshman year, he was here for the first semester and then had to leave in spring for chemo,” Jacoby said. “He thought he had it tackled twice.”

Jacoby said Steve came back to live with them in November 2009, and in January, had to tell the roommates that the cancer had come back for the third time.

Jacoby said last week, Steve went into the Cleveland Clinic and the roommates found out around Wednesday.

“I talked to him Wednesday while he was in the hospital on Facebook,” Jacoby said. “The last thing I told him was ‘much love.’”


A very positive guy

“Steve was a great brother to me and a great friend to many,” said David Kanz, Steve’s younger brother. “He taught us all many things and showed amazing strength.”

David, a freshman exploratory major, said his brother never questioned why he was ill.

“Throughout his battle with cancer, from start to finish, he never asked why him or faltered in his faith, but instead fought long and hard, never giving up,” David said. “Even his last time in the hospital, he told us not to give up on him, which we never did, and was already making plans for when he got out of there and went back home.”

David said Steve was “one of the nicest people that you could have met, and anyone that met him most likely became friends with him because he was just that good of a person.”

Steve’s friends remember him as a “very positive guy” and someone who always had a smile on his face.

Nathan Kavali, senior integrated science major and another of Steve’s roommates, said Steve never dwelled on his situation.

“He was always looking out for others, even when he was in a worse situation,” Kavali said. “He was just very friendly and always fun to be around.”

Daniel Euclide, senior managerial marketing and economics major, also lived with Steve.

“He was always having a good time,” Euclide said. “He loved the summer time, and he was big at going on vacation at the beach.”

Just this past Christmas break, Steve went to Las Vegas and had a great time, Euclide added.

“For how unlucky of a person he is, he seems lucky because he was a big music enthusiast and always found cheap tickets or won tickets on radio shows to go to concerts,” Euclide said.

“He’s the kind of guy who always had a smile on his face and is always in a good mood,” Euclide said. “He just wanted to have a good time, and he was almost more supportive of us than we were of him at some times.”

Steves song (the beginning of everything)
By Kyle Jacoby

This is a song i wrote for my friend Steve Kanz who passed away on 3-20-10 from cancer….the sound isnt great nor do i think my singing was on this take ( sing it over and over again can really wear down you throat 🙂 ) but i figured it was more of the thought that was important and i would be willing to play it for anyone at anytime….below are the lyrics enjoy 🙂

I can see it now

you laying among the clouds


to anything

I can see it now

that light shinning down

keeping out hearts

from drifting apart

I can see it now

your smiling face

standing in the warmth

of his amazing grace

I can see it now

no more pain

for me or for you

because that what you do

This is only the beginning of everything

Dealing with illness

“One of his best characteristics was that he didn’t want anyone to worry about his situation,” Kavali said. “Obviously when he was going through the chemo you could tell, but you wouldn’t know from his attitude.”

Jacoby said Steve didn’t want others to focus on his illness.

“He didn’t want people to see he was weak,” Jacoby said. “He didn’t want it to be the center of attention.”

Jacoby said a lot of people were shocked to hear of Steve’s passing last weekend because he had recovered twice before.

“He came out of it twice, so a lot of people assumed he would do it again,” Jacoby said. “That’s what we have grown to know, is him getting it and then getting better.”

Jacoby said unfortunately, Steve’s body was somewhat immune to chemo this time.

“He went on an herbal diet he knew about that had worked for someone else he knew,” Jacoby said. “We thought everything was going good, but eventually he just started to get more tired and more weak.”

Jacoby said overall, Steve wouldn’t open up to friends about his illness too much.

“There were some of us he would open up to and talk about it, but even when he found out the third time, he didn’t really tell us until it came up in conversation,” Jacoby said. “He was always optimistic about it.”

Jacoby said Steve only felt left out when he was going through treatments.

“He wanted to be with us while he was in chemo,” he said. “It wasn’t the fact that he had cancer, it was the fact that he couldn’t walk the journey we were living with us, and he would voice that to us eventually, and those are the moments when he let his guard down.

“He never asked for anything. He never wanted his cancer to be the center of attention. He wanted to enjoy life and enjoy it with us,” Jacoby added.

Wristbands for Steve

To raise money for Steve’s family and medical bills, the roommates sold wristbands for $2 each. They were blue and gold, and Steve chose the colors and the saying on them.

“Basically, we went to Steve and asked him what he would want on the wristbands if we did them,” Kavali said.

Steve chose blue and gold because those were his high school colors as well as the colors for Kent State.

The saying read “Strength in numbers,” along with Steve’s initials, Kavali added.

They began selling the wristbands last week when they found out Steve was hospitalized again, and Jacoby said they were sold out after one party.

“We didn’t expect to sell that many,” he added.

After running out of bracelets on Saturday, Jacoby called one of the roommates while driving to pick up more. That was when he found out that Steve had passed away about a half hour before the phone call.

“We all assumed he would come out,” Jacoby said.

On Sunday night, the roommates painted the large rock on campus blue and gold in memory of Steve.

They painted Steve’s name, his birth and death date and a heart on the tiny rock off to the side.

“It’s really quite amazing how many people are remembering his life, rather than remembering his death,” Jacoby said.

Kavali said he will miss Steve tremendously.

“There were just so many great things about him. He was smart, fun, very witty, and I guess just that he just loved other people,” Kavali said. “We will all miss him.”

Contact academics reporter Suzi Starheim at [email protected].