Virtual Steps to Save Lives April 2023 supporting Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN)
Virtual Steps to Save Lives April 2023

About Virtual Steps to Save Lives April 2023

Our April 2023 Steps to Save Lives Virtual 5K Run, Walk or Roll will be a fun and effective way to fight Esophageal Cancer.  

Even though we won’t be running on the same course – we will be on the same track: ​
our efforts will raise awareness and much-needed funding to fuel our quest to reach the day when nobody has to die of Esophageal Cancer!

WHO: Anyone can join – whether you are a runner, jogger, walker, or roller in a chair with wheels.  When you register, you’ll have the chance to set up your own fundraising page, with your story and pictures or videos, and all of the support to make your efforts to gain support for the fight against Esophageal Cancer effective.  You can even form teams and gather your crew together in this fight!  We have prizes for reaching various fundraising milestones and very cool ones for the individual and team that raises the most!​

WHAT: You will run, walk, or roll in your chair to cover 5K (or 3.1 miles). Everyone who registers will receive their event t-shirt, racing bib, medal, and goody bag through the mail. We will do our best to get your swag bag to you before the start of the race.  We only guarantee arrival by April 23rd for those who register by March 23rd.

WHEN: You can cover the distance at any time between Sunday, April 23rd at 8 am EST until Sunday, April 30th at 8 am.  We will kick off this special week with our online opening ceremonies at 8 am on Sunday, April 23rd. For competitive runners, we are using an honor system, so you’ll just enter your time through our online form any time from April 23 - 30 at 8 am EST. First, second and third place winners will be recognized with medals in both men’s and women’s categories based on age. And the men and women who have the top three times overall will also get special awards.  Those winners will be announced during our online closing ceremony at 6 pm on Sunday, April 30th.

WHERE: Any location that is convenient for you!

WHY: Because you want to end Esophageal Cancer!  You will fuel the fight against this devastating disease with your participation.  Every dollar you raise will raise awareness of the link between acid reflux and Esophageal Cancer, promote Early Detection to Prevent Cancer before it Starts, fight for increased funding for medical research to find treatments to prevent, detect, treat and cure Esophageal Cancer. You will also provide trustworthy, useful educational programming and support for patients and families at risk for Esophageal Cancer.  If you need some tips on how to be successful in your fundraising efforts, we've got them for you right here!

HOW: By taking Steps to Save Lives! For those who may need a little boost to prepare to go the distance, ECAN has partnered with the folks at Couch to 5K to give you the support you may need.  We have week-by-week guidance, an online support community, and a even a special playlist to help you reach peak condition to finish the race!

Once you've completed your race, enter your time HERE before 8 am on April 30, 2023.


Starts at:  April 23, 2023 7:00 AM
Ends at:  April 30, 2023 7:00 AM




Tia Gracey

Meet BECKY BURKHOLDER Chair of Steps to Save Lives April 2023

A Message from Becky:

My journey with Esophageal Cancer began in early spring 2018. My husband Mike noticed that sometimes when he was eating, the food seemed to get stuck. He said he was having severe heartburn but other than that, he had no out of the ordinary health complaints.

Later that year, Mike had his yearly checkup. His doctor ordered an endoscopy that was performed on Sept. 11, 2018. I still have a hard time believing what happened that day was real. When the surgeon came in to discuss the results, he looked at me and said how very sorry he was to tell me that my husband had very advanced Esophageal Cancer. He had a large tumor at the Gastroesophageal Junction.

The chemoradiation that fall took a toll on Mike. He was scheduled for surgery in January. Shortly after the surgery was supposed to start, my cell phone rang, and it was the surgeon telling me that Mike’s tumor had quadrupled in size throughout the chemoradiation and was now too large for the Ivor-Lewis procedure. Surgery was rescheduled for two weeks later, when they planned to do a total gastrectomy.

The surgery went as planned, and although the recovery was very long and painful, Mike kept plugging along. Even after the pathology report came back and six of the ten lymph nodes tested positive for cancer cells, we both still believed that he could beat this very aggressive cancer. Mike endured six more months of bi-weekly chemotherapy treatments. During this time, his weight and strength kept dropping, but he was still determined to get back to his life as a busy high school principal.

On September 11, 2019, he had a PET scan to see how well the latest treatments had worked and thankfully was declared to be clear of cancer cells. It was time to try to get back to living again! Unfortunately, when he had the next set of scans in December, the cancer had returned. Mike went through six treatments of immunotherapy. He was still losing weight, and it was becoming very difficult to keep ahead of the pain.

In March 2020 the scans revealed that the immunotherapy had no effect on the cancer, and it had begun to grow again. By this point, Mike was too thin and weak to continue treatment, and he entered Hospice care. On May 15, 2020, Mike passed away after each of our three children and their spouses said goodbye to him.

His loss has been felt significantly in our school community and especially in our family. We all take comfort in knowing that he is never truly gone; we feel his presence in our lives every single day. Not all of our granddaughters got to meet him, but we all make sure that they know him through our stories. I believe he is proud of us and how we are getting along in his absence.

I decided to get involved in the Esophageal Cancer Action Network as a way to help myself through my grief journey and also as a way to advocate for increased funding for research. I truly believe that screening for Esophageal Cancer should be done just like other “routine” screenings.

I am so happy to see posters for the new Eso-Guard test that doesn’t require sedation in my local hospital, and I pray that this can become part of everyone’s routine healthcare. Waiting for symptoms is typically too late.

I am honored that I was asked to be the chair of the Steps to Save Lives April 2023 Virtual 5K. Please join me in raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of Esophageal Cancer, as well as raising money to fuel the end of Esophageal Cancer.

Fighting Esophageal Cancer ~ Saving Lives!

When ECAN started, our primary goal was to raise awareness of the risk of Esophageal Cancer posed by persistent heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (known as GERD).  ECAN launched the first Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month effort in 2009 and since then, governments, businesses and other organizations throughout the nation have recognized April as Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month year after year! 

But we know an effective battle with this devastating disease must be fought on several levels.  While increased awareness remains a primary focus, working to increase funding for research and educating patients about their options for prevention, early detection, and treatment has become a priority.  ECAN has successfully led the charge for millions in additional federal research funding - adding more than $11 million in new research funding over the past two years - and has become a trusted and reliable source for the latest in medical research affecting those at risk for Esophageal Cancer.

About Esophageal Cancer

Deadly: One 1 out of 5 patients diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer in the US will survive 5 years  | Esophageal Cancer is the #7 Cancer Killer of Men in the United States  | Most is discovered at late stages, when treatment is rarely successful.​

Most Often Caused by Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: Most EC in the US is Esophageal Adenocarcinoma (74%) caused by Reflux Disease  | Esophageal Adenocarcinoma increased 700% over the past 35 years in the U.S.  | Esophageal Adenocarcinoma is the fastest increasing cancer among American men  | Squamous Cell Carcinoma which is usually linked to smoking or drinking causes 26%.

Preventable: Barrett’s Esophagus is the only known precursor to Esophageal Adenocarcinoma  | Barrett’s Esophagus is caused by GERD, but the condition itself causes no symptoms  | Barrett’s Esophagus can be treated and eliminated, thereby preventing progression to Esophageal Cancer  | More than a Million Americans Estimated to be Unaware they Have Barrett’s Esophagus.

Largely Ignored: Lack of Awareness - Only 14% of Americans know that GERD can lead to cancer  | Lack of Screening - No Esophageal Cancer screening protocol in the U.S.  | Lack of Research Funding - Esophageal Cancer causes 2.6% of US cancer deaths, but receives just .5% of the Federal Cancer Research Budget.