March 27, 2024 marks 16 years since my extraordinary husband Monte Mordecai took his last breath on earth. I’m still filled with gratitude for Monte and my good fortune to have had such a loving, supportive marriage. His death dealt a terrible blow to our two children and to me. But that’s not why I write to you now.

Hoping for Change
During Monte’s final weeks, we talked about what we could do to make sure other families didn’t go through the tragedy we were living. After he was gone and I became determined to start ECAN, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I began with the thought that if people knew that reflux disease put them at risk of this deadly cancer, we could save their lives. It didn’t take long to understand that – by itself – having that knowledge wouldn’t be enough.

Not everyone can get an upper endoscopy – even if they fear they are at risk. Much more was needed – like a screening test that was affordable and wouldn’t require sedation. It seemed impossible 15 years ago. Today it is a reality. But we still have a gap to fill to make sure that kind of test is available to everyone who needs it and that they or their doctors know they need it before they develop cancer.

And though it was impossible to know then what a small group of committed people might be able to accomplish, I certainly didn’t think I would be here today preparing to mark ECAN’s 15th anniversary knowing we really had made a life-saving difference.

Actions that Mattered
I was proud in 2009 when ECAN started Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month, but became truly hopeful in 2011 when we were able to convince the National Cancer Institute to include Esophageal Cancer in its ground-breaking cancer genome mapping project known as The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Little did we know that those TCGA findings would one day lead to the first approvals of immunotherapies for Esophageal Cancer patients.

We could not have predicted that our advocacy with Congress could result in millions in additional federal spending for Esophageal Cancer research year after year. That is what has happened in the past few years. It’s what we expect this year and hope for in the years to come.

Just this year, we launched valuable, animated educational resources to help the public understand Esophageal Cancer – and how to prevent, detect, diagnose, treat, and cure this devastating disease.

Looking Forward
But today isn’t the time to pat ourselves on the back. As I think of my Monte’s dramatic decline over the course of the brutal year he fought with this beast, I understand that far too many other families know that excruciating pain. Every. Single. Day.

That is why we continue to push harder for more – and faster – progress. Our tiny organization has grown some over the past 15 years, yet we remain small – but mighty. Our agenda grows every year and our goal to reach the day when nobody must die of Esophageal Cancer remains front and center.

  • We are now working to create standards patients can rely upon when we designate Centers of Excellence in Barrett’s Esophagus and Esophageal Cancer so patients know where to turn for world-class care.
  • We continue to provide more and more resources and opportunities for patients to learn how to prevent and treat Esophageal Cancer.
  • We are planning to meet face-to-face with elected officials and their staff in Washington, D.C. for our first in-person Hill Day on June 24- 25, 2024.
  • We hope to make a big awareness splash this year to make more people aware that reflux disease can cause Esophageal Cancer.

Everyone Can Make a Difference
ECAN is personal to me, and I am grateful that it is personal to so many of you as well. I think ECAN has shown that there is much each of us can do, even when we think we have no power. Here are examples of actions you can take right now to make a difference:

  • You can go to to let Congress know how important Esophageal Cancer research is to you. It just takes a moment of your time and we’ve proven that it can lead to many millions in new research funding – more than $15 million so far!
  • Go to to get involved in many ways to share a life-saving message during Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month which will begin on Monday.
  • For those who are with us for the long haul, please consider joining ECAN’s Fight Club – a dedicated group of donors who give to ECAN every month to make sure there is always someone in the ring fighting for those at risk for Esophageal Cancer.
  • Take Steps to Save Lives from April 21 – 28 by joining our only Virtual 5K this year (it’s not too late to sign up!)
  • Wear your Periwinkle and post it online for Periwinkle Power Day on Friday, April 19th. Our goal is to Paint the Web Periwinkle! Our Buy Periwinkle store can help you out if you don’t have the periwinkle gear you need!
  • If you can make a one-time gift, we try to make it quick and easy at We hope you will agree that investment in ECAN will pay off in meaningful progress!
    So many of you have developed your own ways to make an important difference – and there would be no ECAN without you!

Thank You!
For all you have done to support ECAN’s mission, please accept my thanks and the thanks of my family and the other families for whom ECAN’s mission to save lives is personal.

Never doubt the important role you have played to bring us closer to the day when nobody has to remember the anniversary of their loved one’s death because of Esophageal Cancer.

All my best,

Mindy Mintz Mordecai
ECAN President & CEO