It is extremely inspiring to hear the success stories of everyday heroes but it is completely different when you meet them, in 2017 I had the opportunity to meet Dr. William Tan, he is really an incredible man.
“I am training very hard in hope to participate in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo – 2020”, Dr. Tan said; I realized that he will never give up and I was so impressed how this man defeated his challenges, rose above his disease and won his battle with Leukemia to achieve all those amazing things. For me he was outstanding but I think he knows that his story is not over and that as long as he is able, he will continue to do everything he can to give back to the world.
I have learned a lot from Dr.Tan, I started thinking about how I have lived my life and what if I can go back in time for a second chance. Of course, I cannot go back to start a new beginning but I shall have a new ending.
Stricken with polio at the age of two and was paralyzed from the waist down. His father was a street vendor.
When he was in kindergarten, his classmates would pull his ears and hit him because he was different and finally he was expelled from kindergarten……….
Then tragedy struck again when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 leukemia. Stage 4 is end-stage cancer, meaning there was a minimum chance of recovery. His doctors gave him 12 months maximum to live.
Dr. William Tan
Dr. William Tan’s story is really quite outstanding. He was born in 1957 and was dealt with quite a difficult hand in life, having to live his life bound to a wheel-chair.
Upon graduation from the National University of Singapore, he went for postgraduate studies, He was graduated from Harvard University with a First Class Honours in Physiology.
Dr. Tan is an Asian-Pacific Games triple gold medalist, he has also competed in the 1988 Seoul Paralympics, the World Games as well as the Commonwealth Games.
He holds six endurance marathon world records including the “Fastest time to complete Three marathons in Three Consecutive Days in Three countries”.
He has skydived, water-skied, sailed and even climbed a 14-story building to raise money. He has helped raised more than $18 million on a voluntary basis for charities locally and internationally, over the last 22 years.
In 2007, Dr. Tan became the first person in the world to accomplish a marathon in a wheelchair in the North Pole in 21 hours and 10 mins despite overwhelming obstacles and extreme conditions of –25 deg C to raise funds for Global Flying Hospitals.
The very same year, he became the fastest person in the world to complete 7 marathons across 7 continents in 26 days to raise funds for international charities on 7 continents.
In 2009 while as everything seemed to be going quite well for Dr. Tan who was at the top of his game in sports while also building quite a reputable career in medicine. Tragedy struck again and he was diagnosed with Stage 4 (end-stage) leukemia.
Throughout his 6 months of toxic chemotherapy followed by bone marrow transplant, he championed for needy cancer patients who cannot afford the high cost of cancer treatment in Singapore.
On 26 September 2010, he achieved his best time ever in para-cycling at the Berlin Marathon.
One year after his bone marrow transplant, he accomplished two full marathons back to back with finishing times better than his pre-leukemia days.
In 2014 and 2015, he hand-cycled from London to Paris over a distance of 500 km in four days to raise funds for lymphoma and leukemia research in the USA, UK, New Zealand, and Singapore.
His battle against end-stage leukemia, however, has been his longest and most painful race.
Dr. William Tan
- A multi-degree graduate of the National University of Singapore, as well as Newcastle, Auckland, Harvard and Oxford Universities,
- A highly-successful neuroscientist and physician
- A Paralympian
- A multiple gold-medallist
- The first person in the world to accomplish a marathon in the North Pole in a wheelchair
- A multi-world record holder in marathons (including the fastest time to accomplish 7 marathons across 7 continents including Antarctica – in 26 days and 17 hours)
- Author & International Inspirational Speaker
- A true beacon of light in Singapore, Dr. William Tan overcomes polio and cancer to change lives www.theonlinecitizen.com