Steps to Save Lives Virtual 5K April 2024 supporting Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN)
Steps to Save Lives Virtual 5K April 2024

About Steps to Save Lives Virtual 5K April 2024

Our April 2024 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 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 end  Esophageal Cancer effective.  You can even form teams and gather your crew to join you in this fight! 

You will win prizes for reaching various fundraising milestones and very cool ones for the individual and team that raise 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 your swag bag will arrive by April 21st if you register by March 22nd.

WHERE: Any location that is convenient for YOU!

WHEN: You can cover the distance at any time between Sunday, April 21st at 8 am EST until Sunday, April 28th at 8 am

We will kick off this special week with our online Opening Ceremonies at 8 am on Sunday, April 21st

The fastest competitive men and women runners will receive medals and awards based on their age categories and overall. 

We use an honor system, so you’ll enter your time through our online form any time from April 21st – April 28th 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. The men and women who have the top three times overall will also get special awards.  

The fastest runners and most successful fundraisers will be announced during our online Closing Ceremony at 7 pm on Sunday, April 28th.

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 even a special playlist to help you reach peak condition to finish the race!

WHY: Because you want to end Esophageal Cancer!  You will fuel the fight to end this devastating disease with your participation.  Every dollar you raise will increase awareness about 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!


A message from our event chair:

My wonderful husband, Brad was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer in December 2021.  He was 64 years old.  We had been together for 36 years, married for 32, and raised two awesome daughters, Hannah and Megan.  Brad and I had recently retired and we were making plans for our next chapter.  Brad had never smoked, he ate well, exercised and led a happy, healthy life.  He had suffered from chronic heartburn most of his adult life, and in 2014, when he was 57 years old, he was diagnosed and treated for Barrett’s Esophagus.  Brad’s doctor at that time recommended endoscopies every 5 years.  Sadly, we learned too late that more frequent endoscopies might have saved his life.

After his initial Esophageal Cancer diagnosis, the oncologist called on New Year’s Eve to tell us that the CAT and PET scans showed the cancer had not spread and therefore there was a treatment path to cure Brad.  We were so relieved, hopeful, and grateful!

Brad approached the intense treatment including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery to remove the cancer with courage, grace, and without complaint. Brad always had hope and faith; always kept his sense of humor and always kept thinking of everybody else before himself. 

At the end of June 2022, Brad underwent a 9-hour esophagectomy.  When he was released from the hospital a couple of weeks later, Brad’s doctors told us they believed he was cancer-free. We were so happy and felt the nightmare was behind us. 

However, within a few weeks Brad began to feel sick.  At first, it was mostly nausea, but then he began losing strength and balance.  At first doctors assumed his symptoms resulted from the strain of recovering from major surgery, but when Brad continued to worsen, a CAT scan revealed a mass in his brain. We were shocked and devastated.  Our lives changed forever that night. 

After several days of tests and scans, we began to understand the horrific news.  The cancer had spread to the brain and spinal fluid in the form of deadly Leptomeningeal Disease.  Brad chose to receive every treatment Memorial Sloan Kettering could offer, including full brain radiation, a shunt, endless tests - and he never complained.  He kept fighting to stay with us for as long as he could.  Ultimately, they had nothing more to offer.  We took Brad on the 6 hour journey home by ambulance on September 10, 2022.  Family and close friends were able to visit and say good-bye.   Our daughters and I never left his side.   Brad passed away on September 16, 2022, in the home he had built for us, all of us together.  

Sadly, I did not learn about ECAN until after Brad‘s passing. Had we heard the message years ago that heartburn can cause cancer, I believe Brad would still be alive today.  If Brad’s doctor had ordered more frequent endoscopies following his diagnosis of Barrett’s Esophagus, Brad might still be with us.  None of us live forever, but I believe Brad could have and should have lived much longer.  

That’s why I am honored to chair this April’s Steps to Save Lives Virtual 5k. 

Brad was always happiest when he was taking care of people. If supporting ECAN helps even one person hear the crucial message that Heartburn can cause Cancer, then that will be a wonderful way to continue Brad‘s legacy of helping others.  Together, we can move toward a future where no one has to die from Esophageal Cancer.

Fighting Esophageal Cancer ~ Saving Lives!

ECAN started its work with a burning desire: make Americans aware 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! 

Awareness in NOT ENOUGH.  That's why we are an ACTION Network.
We believe an effective battle to end this devastating disease must be fought on several levels. 

While we relentlessy raise awareness, we are also working to 

  • increase funding for research, and 
  • educate patients and families about their options for prevention, early detection, and treatment 

ECAN has successfully

  • led the charge for millions in additional federal research funding and 
  • become a trusted and reliable source of medical education for 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.