From a Child’s Heart

Like so many organizations fighting deadly disease, the impetus to establish ECAN began with profound grief and frustration. In 2007, John “Monte” Mordecai was diagnosed with stage III Esophageal Cancer. While Monte and his Johns Hopkins physicians waged a brave battle that included every treatment modality available, his elder daughter wanted to fight his disease as well. A 12-year-old dancer at the time, Mara Mordecai decided she wanted more people to understand that something as common as heartburn could lead to something as deadly as her father’s disease. From that desire, an event and non-profit corporation known as Dance for the Cure was born.

Sadly, Mara’s father did not live to see his daughter’s efforts come to fruition. Monte died in March of 2008 and the first Dance for the Cure was held just weeks later, on June 1, 2008. The event raised more than $20,000 and through media outreach and public education efforts, Dance for the Cure began to raise awareness about Esophageal Cancer in the mid-Atlantic region. A second annual event in 2009 achieved similar goals.

Mara Mordecai
Mara backstage at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore with her father, Monte Mordecai in December 2007 after performing with the Moscow Ballet in the Great Russian Nutcracker.

Waging a New Battle

Monte’s widow, Mindy Mintz Mordecai, and the impressive array of dedicated professionals she recruited to serve on the Board of Directors of this new non-profit organization were well aware that much change was necessary to prevent more families from experiencing the devastation Esophageal Cancer caused the Mordecais. With that conviction, the Board voted in June of 2009 to change the name of the organization to reflect its broader mission, and ECAN, the Esophageal Cancer Action Network was born.

ECAN’s MISSION is to SAVE LIVES by 1) increasing awareness about the link between Reflux Disease and Cancer, 2) promoting early detection, 2) supporting medical innovation to prevent, detect, treat and cure Esophageal Cancer, and 3) providing patients and families with the latest, most reliable medical information and compassionate support.

ECAN’s Board of Directors is comprised of top medical professionals, business leaders, patients and family members who have been touched by Esophageal Cancer. A national non-profit organization based in Baltimore, Maryland, ECAN provides patients and families with support during their journey, tools to raise awareness and a chance to advocate for progress to increase survival and quality of life for patients – and slow the increase of this disease in the future.