Thousand Oaks, California, United States
“As a child, I was told I was a stiff, clumsy, stupid, ugly duckling with an awful voice. I was discouraged from ever attempting to be a speaker, dancer or doctor. I followed my dream of becoming a doctor, nevertheless, and became the second female Asian to be a certified veterinarian oncologist in the US.
Unfortunately, I continued to experience hardship in my life. I struggled with navigating my divorce, the death of loved ones, cancer, financial loss and more, all in a two-year period. If that wasn’t enough, I suffered paralysis in my dominant hand while supporting my mother through a critical illness and experiencing the loss of my long-term boyfriend. Those events led me to contemplate sitting on railroad tracks in 1995 and swallowing a bottle of pills in 2011.
While this is bad, it doesn’t compare to Ida’s story. Ida reached out to me when I was doing free online grief coaching for the California fire victims. Ida was dying from curable cancer - curable, unless you were from an impoverished Sub-Saharan African village. Unfortunately, Ida died shortly afterwards. Her death motivated me to support her last wish, which is that no child dies from cancer due to poverty. So I founded the International Childhood Cancer Charity (ICCC) to help empower impoverished children with cancer so they can bring their light to our world.
I also founded the Dance Away Sadness Movement while becoming a grief specialist and success coach and speaker.
'Say yes and you'll figure it out afterward.' The words of Tina Fey ring true for me as I reflect on my life. I said yes to my dreams despite the many obstacles I faced. Use your adversities to do good far beyond yourself and turn your miseries into a miracle for humanity.”- Dr. Birgitte Tan, Grief Recovery Specialist