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.

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

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.


Waging a New Battle

Monte’s wife and the impressive array of dedicated professionals she had recruited to serve on the Board of Directors of this new nonprofit organization were well aware that much needed to be done to prevent more families from the devastation esophageal cancer so frequently brings. With that conviction, the Board voted in June of 2009 to change the name of the organization to reflect its broader mission, and the Esophageal Cancer Action Network was born. ECAN was created with the primary goal to help raise awareness of the risk of Esophageal Cancer posed by persistent heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease known as GERD.


Creating a Network

To effectively fight this disease, ECAN is bringing together a community of individuals and groups who are concerned about the rapid increase in Esophageal Cancer cases and want to support the campaign for public awareness and the creation of more effective tools to detect and treat the disease. ECAN is dedicated to working for increased funding for medical research to battle Esophageal Cancer. Despite its distinction as one of the fastest increasing cancer diagnoses in the United States, Esophageal Cancer is currently among the most poorly funded cancers in terms of federal research dollars. ECAN and its network of supporters are working to change that. We look forward to the day when Esophageal Cancer is regularly detected at early stages and the medical establishment has all the information and tools it needs to effectively treat and cure those who are diagnosed.