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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Esophageal Cancer Action Network, Inc. (ECAN)

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Cancer, Digestive Diseases & Disorders, Health

Mission: Esophageal Cancer Action Network's mission is to >SAVE LIVES by raising awareness about the link between Heartburn and Cancer > promoting early detection > supporting progress in medical innovation for the prevention, early detection, treatment and cure of Esophageal Cancer and > linking patients and families to compassionate support. Every 36 minutes, an American dies of Esophageal Cancer. ECAN is dedicated to fighting Esophageal Cancer, the fastest increasing cancer diagnosis in the U.S. Esophageal Cancer can be treated successfully if it's detected early. But usually it isn't. That's one of the reasons we founded ECAN. We want people who have persistent heartburn to know that they are at risk for this deadly disease. And we want those who decide how federal research dollars are spent to focus more attention on finding much more effective tools to discover and fight Esophageal Cancer.

Programs: Ecan's mission is to save lives by increasing awareness about the link between heartburn and cancer, promoting early detection, supporting medical innovation to prevent, detect, treat and cure esophageal cancer and link patients and families to compassionate support. This national non-profit organization, based in baltimore, is led by a board of directors of top physicians, business leaders, and families that have been touched by esophageal cancer. History: ecan was founded in 2009 by mindy mintz mordecai and an impressive group of dedicated professionals after she lost the father of her two young daughters, and her husband of 14 years, to esophageal cancer. Angry and frustrated because she believes that her husband and thousands more like him might never have died had they been aware of the link between heartburn and cancer, mordecai is determined to prevent others from suffering the pain esophageal cancer has caused her family. Accomplishments: over the past 6 years, ecan has made significant strides in the fight against esophageal cancer. Among ecan's successes:critical research: ecan successfully advocated with the national cancer institute to change course and include esophageal cancer in its genome mapping project known as the the cancer genome atlas (tcga). Mindy mintz mordecai is also a member of the national cancer institute's esophagogastric task force of the gastrointestinal steering committee as a patient advocate representative and the nci patient advocate steering committee. The focus of the task force is to improve the clinical research that impacts esophageal and gastric cancer patients. A guide for patients: with input from physicians around the country, ecan developed an innovative guide for patients providing comprehensive and clear information about the link between heartburn and cancer. The guide is designed to help patients advocate for their own health care and is available as a free download from the ecan website in both english and spanish. Esophageal cancer awareness month: esophageal cancer awareness month: ecan led the effort to have april designated as esophageal cancer awareness month in states throughout the united states. With ecan's support over the past 5 years, more than 150 gubernatorial declarations of ec awareness month have been achieved throughout the country and in some other nations, as well. April is now observed as ec awareness month by companies, organizations and governments across the nation - and the world. Legendary partnership: ecan has partnered with the estate of film icon humphrey bogart whose life was cut short in 1957 by esophageal cancer. In may 2013, the 3,000 guests of the first annual humphrey bogart film festival in key largo, florida witnessed the launch of screenings for screenings. In movie trailers produced by ecan and presented before each film, bogart's son stephen encourages those at risk for esophageal cancer to "get checked. " those trailers can now be seen at a variety of events, including the annual humphrey bogart film festival in key largo, florida. Events that make a difference: in april 2014, ecan presented the first esophageal cancer awareness event in professional sports at the staples center when the l. A. Clippers took on the dallas mavericks. Later that month, ecan sponsored the first esophageal cancer awareness race ever held in new york city; more than 1,000 attended the two day festival that included a 5k, 10k and half marathon. In april 2012, ecan hosted the first gala ever held in the u. S. To focus on esophageal cancer advocacy. Former california congresswoman and under secretary of state ellen o. Tauscher moved the crowd of nearly 300 with her story of survival of stage iii esophageal cancer. In 2013, the cancer dancer gala attracted a larger audience and raised more than $110,000 in support of ecan's life-saving mission. In 2014, the cancer dancer gala went hollywood with more than 300 guests and remarks by ecan spokesman stephen bogart. The fun night celebrated ecan's success as it approached its fifth anniversary. Seriously funny: in 2015, ecan launched its no laughing matter campaign - a public awareness effort that uses humor to help folks understand that reflux disease is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly. The highlight of the campaign was an evening with jeff foxworthy in arlington, virginia in april that brought a new audience to our message and entertained our supporters with a fantastic evening of fun and laughter. Leading up to the foxworthy event, ecan hosted competitions in comedy clubs throughout the us where comedians competed for the chance to be the opening act for jeff foxworthy. The winner of the competition, andy huggins of houston, performed a hilarious set before jeff foxworthy took the stage. Reaching for the sky: ecan took awareness to new heights in 2015 with its stories to save lives event in los angeles. More than 40 brave participants rappelled down 24 stories of the hilton universal city hotel on behalf of someone who has faced esophageal cancer. Two rappellers were ec survivors and a third is a patient currently battling esophageal cancer. This fun and moving day delivered a strong message about the importance of early detection and taking reflux disease seriously. Ecan sponsors and supports multiple fundraising and awareness raising events around the country including walks, runs, bike rides, golf tournaments, dinners, library outreach, speaking events, art shows and more. Ecan volunteers have hosted more than 60 events to raise awareness in cities and towns across the united states since 2010.

Community Stories

28 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters



Rating: 5

When my husband was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2011, the people from ECAN were with me every step of the way -- from helping me comprehend his diagnosis to assisting me in running fundraisers to raise awareness to actually sitting down & listening to me and holding my hand when I needed it most. They are all caring people who have been through exactly what I've been through --- they UNDERSTAND.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

ECAN has done an excellent job at raisng awareness about Esophageal Cancer. I lost my Dad in 2008 and did not know anything about this cancer. Spreading awareness will save lives.


Rating: 5

I found the Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN) when my dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2009. They were an exceptional source of information and were determined to get the message out to the public that "Heartburn Can Cause Cancer". Over the years they have saved countless lives by encouraging people who have persistent heartburn to get it checked. Esophageal Cancer is rarely diagnosed early & because of this, is one of the most deadly cancers. If checked early it can be successfully treated. My only wish is that ECAN was around many years earlier, so that my dad & many others could have benefited by ECAN's monumental efforts & strides in promoting awareness, prevention, increased research funding in the area of Esophageal Cancer.

Board Member

Rating: 4

ECAN works hard to get the word out about the causes of EC and the fact that Heartburn Can Cause Cancer. Because this disease is usually detected when it's too late, ECAN informs people of the symptoms and encourages them to get tested. They also work with primary care physicians and specialists to get the word out that the symptoms are not trivial and should be paid attention to. The staff is small but dedicated.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Excellent organization providing a lot of information about Esophageal Cancer. They also have a fun annual fundraiser where people can take dance classes in all types of dance genres.

Review from Guidestar