Marc G Tan shows how software can help take a stand in the fight against Cancer

Marc G Tan

For as long as he can remember, Marc G Tan has been energized by the idea that he might be able to use his own talents in order to improve the lives of others. As an engineer, Tan encounters real-life issues that need solving. Oftentimes, this includes problems that remain close-to-heart for various members or groups within our society and knowing that the solutions he develops will inevitably impact their lives in a meaningful way is all of the motivation that he needs to get himself to work every day. Even in his own life, Tan has experienced firsthand how products or services developed by engineers can significantly change lives, whether they’re eliminating pain points, creating joy for people, or both and more. Ultimately, being an engineer provides him with a platform to serve others and he considers his profession to be a gift that he is lucky enough to call a job.

Throughout his life, Tan has had a number of personal experiences watching loved one’s battle with the atrocious disease that is cancer. Over the years, and across hospital visits, he began to develop immense empathy for those undergoing treatment and fighting back against an illness that is not only unavoidable, but generally incurable. Given his passion for helping others, he felt an urge to find a way to do more for patients who fall victim to cancer and to do so in a big way. For these reasons and more, he decided to join the Children’s Cancer Foundation in order to organize fundraising events in support of young cancer patients from underprivileged families. Alongside the Children’s Cancer Foundation, Tan found Hair for Hope, and event meant to empower cancer patients into treating hair loss as a reason to be confident and as a token of their strength.

Hair for Hope is an event where participants amass donations and shave their heads in support of children battling cancer and ultimately, hair loss as a side effect of their given treatment. Not only is the event intended to assist patients financially, it also aims to serve as a way of coping with their disease on an emotional level and building confidence to last through to adolescence. For the event, Tan acted as a satellite organizer, hosting two fundraising concerts to expand the campaign. Alongside a team of over 300 committee members and performers, the events included musical acts, magic shows, and dance performances that attracted over one thousand attendees. Tan’s major contribution to these events, and to the Children’s Cancer Foundation as a whole, however, lay in the web application that he created for them. Including features such as an online donation gateway, ticket software to both sell and manage sales, marketing, and more. His expertise in designing mobile applications allowed for him to simplify the organization’s donations and sales processes, including tools to spread and share the event via social media.

Hair for Hope participants, comprising of students and staff

While Tan was busy giving back to the community, he hadn’t anticipated how much of an impact the events and his Hair for Hope appwould have on him. According to Tan, the entire experience helped to shape his understanding of people on a deeper level. In addition to navigating the various organizational and logistical elements of the event, he found that creating the application itself kept him in constant contact with a number of different stakeholders, each proposing their own variety of concerns and goals. Such interactions allowed him to put use to his persuasion skills and more importantly, his motivational prowess. He had to develop solutions that catered to a particular set of end users and he had to do so in such a way that would be useful to them.

As a result of the campaign’s success, Hair for Hope initiatives are now run on an ongoing, annual basis using Tan’s software application. He is humbled knowing that his application is helping generate both revenue and awareness for such an important cause in society and he hopes that he will be able to continue developing apps in years to come that will address other important societal needs like this one.

“The ones who benefited most from my work are the children. When they’re fortunate enough to have a chance to fight an internal disease and recover into adulthood, they need more than just medicine to keep them going. The Children’s Cancer Foundation conducts sessions to help these children ease back into society with regards to things like catching up on their academics or retraining their interpersonal skills. Knowing the campaign was so successful means that I was able to help more children to win that fight and live long, fulfilling lives. To know that I helped them to combat the sense of hopelessness they feel and make a difference in their lives is deeply meaningful,” he concluded.