An 11 year old so moved and inspired by the story of Professor Swee Tan - from his move from a poor village in Malaysia to his innovative work on strawberry birthmarks in children and his belief that within this research was the secret to cure cancerous tumours - has written and published a book about to be launched in Wellington.
The book, If Persistence was a Person: The story of Professor Swee Tan is the story of Swee Tan and his vision but it is also a story of Hana Olds (now 12 years old) and her dream of making a difference in the world by writing a book.
Hana, from Petone, was struck by Professor Swee Tan when she watched a documentary about him. It inspired her to want to help fundraise the $4 million dollars that Swee Tan needs to be able to research cancer as part of the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute (GMRI). Her book is written for children and young people, with all of the profits going to Swee Tan’s research at the GMRI.
After seeing the documentary, Hana contacted Prof Tan and invited him to present to her class. It took some persuading on Hana’s part, but eventually Professor Tan agreed to let Hana write a book about him and his work (he had turned down other offers to write a book thinking that he was too young).
Hana spent many months researching Professor Swee Tan and interviewing him, writing and collecting the photos she needed to be able to write her book. Hana’s thought it would take 3 - 4 weeks to complete her work: over a year later her dream has come true and her book is ready to be launched. Along the journey many people, children and adults, have freely offered their services to support Hana’s book including a graphic designer, editor, and Cure Kids who are supporting the printing and distribution.
Hana says, "We all know people affected by cancer. I hope this book can make a difference by contributing funds to the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute to support Professor Swee Tan’s research into cures for cancerous tumours. Swee believes he and the team can do it, and so do I. If you believe in yourself you can do anything. I hope this book inspires many more people to take action in the world."
Nau te rou rou, naku te rou rou, ka ora ai te iwi. If we all contribute our skills, expertise, passions, strengths, whatever we can offer, we will all flourish.
Excerpt from book
Imagine you are a child, born in a small Malaysian village, to a poor family. You are one of fourteen children. Your mother never went to school and your father only attended school up until the age of ten. You love your mum and dad, but you don’t want to be poor like them with few opportunities. You want to become a doctor, but people around you say, "You can’t be a doctor. Look at your hands. They’re rough and dirty." This doesn’t stop you. It just makes your dream even stronger. This is the inspirational story of Professor Swee Tan. This is his story, from a young boy in rural Malaysia to an innovative surgeon in New Zealand. Swee’s story can inspire you to change the world.
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