It’s the seventh day of our 12 Days of Charitable Giving! In December, I’ll be focusing on twelve charitable organizations which my readers have nominated as most deserving of your charitable donation. You have a couple more weeks to squeeze in your charitable deduction for tax purposes in 2013 – so why not consider one of our twelve?
Don't Miss: The Best HDR TVs
Today’s featured charity is the Esophageal Cancer Action Network, or ECAN. ECAN’s mission is to save lives by increasing awareness about the link between heartburn and cancer, promoting early detection and supporting medical innovation to prevent, detect and treat Esophageal Cancer.
Esophageal cancer doesn’t get much press. That may have something to do with the connection between esophageal cancer and heartburn. It’s decidedly not glamorous but understanding the connection could be exactly the thing that saves you.
The esophagus is a hollow, muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. It lies behind the trachea and in front of the spine. When you eat or drink, food and liquids travel through the inside of the esophagus to the stomach where food is digested with a combination of strong acid and enzymes. In some people, that stomach acid returns back into the esophagus. You’ve heard this described as persistent heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease or acid reflux. If reflux continues for a long time, it can damage the lining of the esophagus. As cells in the lining are damaged, they are replaced with gland cells. When that happens, it’s called Barrett’s esophagus. And statistically, people with Barrett’s esophagus are much more likely to develop cancer of the esophagus – the risk is nearly 125 times the norm.
Who is at risk? Since persistent heartburn may be a contributing factor, the 15 million Americans who suffer from heartburn should monitor symptoms closely. Esophageal cancer is three to four times more common in men than women – and your risk appears to increase with age. Nearly 80% of those diagnosed with esophageal cancer are between ages 55 and 85.
Since symptoms are often ignored or overlooked for years, a diagnosis may be a long time coming. Sadly, most people diagnosed with esophageal cancer will die because of a late diagnosis.
There is good news: new medical techniques can increase the chances of survival with early detection. Today, ECAN is working to educate those who suffer from heartburn about the potential risk of developing esophageal cancer.
ECAN was founded by Mindy Mintz Mordecai and her daughter, Mara, following the diagnosis of John “Monte” Mordecai with stage III Esophageal Cancer. Mara, a dancer, created an organization called Dance for the Cure in 2008, sponsoring an event to raise money for research and education. Mordecai died before the first event. A second successful event brought more press and in 2009, the Board of Directors voted to change the name of the organization to ECAN to reflect its mission.
So how can you help?
ECAN hosts a number of events throughout the year. If you’re interested in volunteering your time planning or publicizing an event, or assisting with awareness, you can fill in the online form here. You can also attend or host an event or become a sponsor.
By the dollars, esophageal cancer receives relatively little funding for research compared to other forms of cancer. Your financial contribution to ECAN will help increase awareness for the need for early detection and more medical research. You can make an online donation.
To make a gift by mail, send your check made payable to:
Esophageal Cancer Action Network
P.O. Box 243
Stevenson, Maryland 21153
As always, you want to make sure that your donation is going to a qualified charitable organization. A search using the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Select Check reveals that ECAN is on the IRS list of qualified charitable organizations. To find out more about the work of the organization, check out their website, follow them on Twitter or like them on Facebook.
You can also show your support by buying merchandise. Periwinkle blue is the color assigned for Esophageal Cancer Awareness. You can buy wristbands, ribbon magnets, tee shirts, scarves, charm bracelets and more in periwinkle blue through ECAN’s online store.
For more about ECAN, check out this video, which includes a brief appearance by Stephen Bogart, son of legendary Hollywood actors, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall:
Humphrey Bogart died of esophageal cancer at the age of 57. In 2012, the estate of Humphrey Bogart (through Bogart LLC) joined forces with ECAN to spread awareness of the benefits of early detection. The estate also donated a mounted piece of steel from the hull of the African Queen to ECAN’s online auction: the boat was made famous by the 1951 film, African Queen, starring, Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.
As we go along this month, I encourage you to check out the charities that made our list this year:
- 12 Days of Charitable Giving 2013: Feeding America
- 12 Days of Charitable Giving 2013: Helping Hands Center For Special Needs
- 12 Days Of Charitable Giving 2013: Sow Much Good
- 12 Days Of Charitable Giving 2013: Children Of Fallen Patriots
- 12 Days of Charitable Giving 2013: Kids Making It
- 12 Days Of Charitable Giving 2013: Flashes Of Hope
Remember, submissions to the 12 Days of Charitable Giving are made by readers and in most cases, I can’t personally vouch for the good work that these folks do. So be generous. But be smart. Do your homework.
For more on the tax considerations in making charitable donations, check out some of these prior posts:
- Making Your Gifts Count: 10 Smart Tips For Charitable Giving
- 12 Tips for Year End Charitable Giving
- Ask the taxgirl: Charitable Contributions and Receipts
Want more taxgirl goodness? Pick your poison: You can receive posts by email, follow me on twitter (@taxgirl) hang out with me on Facebook and check out my YouTube channel. You can also subscribe to the podcast on the site or via iTunes (it’s free).
Don't Miss: Nintendo Switch: Everything You Need To Know