Wheelchair racer Tan hopes new book will inspire cancer patients

Dr William Tan and his book author, Mr Woon Wei Jong at the National Library.
Dr William Tan and his book author, Mr Woon Wei Jong at the National Library.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The Asean Para Games (APG) are long over but para athlete William Tan still continues to inspire fellow Singaporeans.

Last month, the wheelchair racer sought to motivate members of the disabled fraternity to take up sports through the APG.

Now, the 58-year old is hoping to reach out to cancer patients and survivors with the launch of his new Mandarin book titled More Challenges, More Vigour.

Written by Woon Wei Jong, an associate news editor with Lianhe Wanbao, this is the second book documenting the neuroscientist's life journey, after his first No Journey Too Tough was published in 2006.

Said the physician: "For a long time, people have asked for a Chinese book after reading No Journey Too Tough.

"I thought doing a Mandarin book would be the next logical step."

Dr Tan in front of a banner for his new Mandarin book More Challenges, More Vigour. Proceeds from the sales will go to charity.
Dr Tan in front of a banner for his new Mandarin book More Challenges, More Vigour. Proceeds from the sales will go to charity. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Dr Tan was inspired by a colleague to write another book after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 leukaemia in 2009. Then, he was told that he had only a year to live.

"In my moment of sadness, he mentioned that I should document my journey into a book which could help many patients battling cancer," he said.

"He planted the seeds in my head and I thought something meaningful could come out from my experience.

"My whole objective was to use my experience and journey to inspire people to continue living their life."

However, because he lacked proficiency in Mandarin, Dr Tan started on the book only in mid-2012, after meeting Woon at a table tennis training session.

He said: "When I meet Wei Jong, we really struck a chord and we knew then that we wanted to work together."

The two got cracking right away, and even finished a draft of the book by the end of that year.

But the book almost did not materialise as Dr Tan developed graft versus host disease that same year, a process which saw his body rejecting the stem cells from his bone marrow transplant.

The pain and fatigue took a toll on the athlete, and he was left feeling "very unmotivated to write".

The doctor was also busy with other activities such as raising funds for charity or training for the APG when he was healthy.

But the flame was rekindled last year.

"I knew SG50 was a big year for Singapore and I had set certain targets for myself," he said.

"The celebrations really sparked off a certain determination in me and invigorated me to finish the book.

"I think it is a great way to finish off SG50 on a personal level with the completion of this book."

In the spirit of SG50, he will donate the profits from the sale of the 9,500 copies available to 50 charities across the island.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2016, with the headline 'Wheelchair racer Tan hopes new book will inspire cancer patients'. Print Edition | Subscribe