Science & Medicine

Ian – Celebration of a life

Last week, touching tributes to Ian began to appear in e-mails, social media and the MPN-NET digest, the patient support list he so loved and helped build and, finally, came to personify. With the permission of Nathalie Cook, who has served up so many recipes in these pages, here is her tribute that appeared, as well, in the MPN-OZ list.

Dear MPN Community,

I attended Ian’s funeral in Canberra Ian Paul 1 lrgyesterday and it was a lovely, moving memorial even though it was so sad to say goodbye to Ian. It was a beautiful warm summer day with a gentle breeze and the side and main glass doors of the chapel were open with guests spilling out into the courtyard, which was surrounded by the shade of trees and greenery. His lovely wife Marie and their beautiful daughters Claire and Natalie were all extremely brave and gave very touching, eloquent eulogies for Ian, interspersed with amusing family anecdotes.

The wake was lovely too as friends and family gathered over a light lunch and a glass of wine. There was a photo display of Ian and his family which included pictures from his childhood in South Australia, Ian the geologist on field trips, right up until recent pictures of Ian resting in bed reading the newspaper, surrounded by his cute little toddler grandson Hugo and his beloved dog. All the pictures showed Ian’s characteristic happy smile and love of life. It was hard to imagine Ian not being there yesterday, enjoying the day with everyone. Marie said she had been overwhelmed and very touched by everyones tributes to Ian and kind words of condolence.

Ian was so brave throughout his AML journey over the last 18 months, following his 20 year history of PV. Even as his own health was slipping away from him he continued to selflessly support others with MPN via MPN-NET and MPN-Oz email support groups, as he had done for so many years, sharing his wealth of knowledge on MPN he had accumulated over his two decades with PV, to reassure others and help them with their treatment decisions, in his characteristic calm, wise and objective manner. We have all been blessed to have known such a wonderful man and he will be sorely missed.

Rest in peace Ian.

rose single white

We invited Ken Young, the founder of the MPD-OZ list to share his memories of Ian

I was deeply saddened to awaken to the news that Ian Sweet had passed away. When I was first diagnosed with MPD back in 1998 I emailed him    because he was based in Australia and I was feeling isolated and a bit frightened about the disease.  We talked on the phone. I was unsure of what the disorder meant or the prognosis and Ian calmly and helpfully gave me an introductory lesson in MPDs. For those who were not aware Ian was a geophysical scientist by training and profession and was not afraid of statistics or reading scientific reports and then interpreting the material for the rest of us on the various lists he supported.

Ian gave to the MPN community with great generosity of spirit. He encouraged me to set up the MPD-Oz email list back in 1998. Ian has been a warm friend to all on MPD-Oz list offering sage advice in his posts and taking the time to make supportive ‘off-list’ comments to many people. Ian faced life with courage and compassion. His final months were difficult both for Ian and his family but he still gave himself to the MPN Community.

In a    private email from Ian in late November Ian was very encouraging of the MPD-Oz list and expressed his satisfaction with the appointment of a National MPN Co-ordinator by the Leukaemia Foundation. Ian’s family requested that in lieu of flowers people make donations to the Leukaemia Foundation

I wish to extend our condolences to his family, his wife Marie and  their beautiful daughters Claire and Natalie. I had the pleasure of  meeting Marie a few years ago and the deep love they shared was  obvious.

Vale Ian

rose single white

Russell McGowan, an MPN survivor and healthcare patient advocate in Australia, posted a description of Ian’s funeral service. With his permission, this is a very slightly edited version.

… along with 150 or so of Ian’s family and friends, I attended Ian’s funeral service in balmy sunshine on Monday 6 January at the Gold Creek Chapel in Canberra where Ian’s life was affirmed as one well lived by a person well loved.

Diagnosed with an MPN at about the same time more than two decades ago, and a long time resident of Canberra, I had known Ian as a fellow traveller on the MPN journey although our paths diverged quite early on as I underwent a BMT for idiopathic myelofibrosis the year after my diagnosis in 1992.  I was constantly in awe of Ian’s knowledge about the range of myelo-proliferative disorders and their treatment.  I regularly sought his counsel re difficulties that others in my network were encountering as they faced decisions about the sort of treatment they should undertake, and whether bone marrow transplantation would be a sensible option.  I was always appreciative of Ian’s calm, sincere and methodical contributions and amazed at the constancy of his efforts to support others right up until the end.

The secular service which celebrated his life and acknowledged his death befitted his nature and did the family great credit.  His family, including his wife Marie, his daughters Claire and Natalie and sisters Sue and Julie, spoke eloquently of his early life in Quorn, a small country town in rural South Australia, his transition thorough a science degree to a vocation as a geologist with GeoScience Australia based in Canberra and his emergence in later life as a much admired contributor to a worldwide network of people with MPNs.

Their words of loving recollection of Ian’s wisdoms and follies were well chosen and inspirational, and the music they chose to reflect Ian’s eclectic tastes included Elgar’s Cello Concerto played by Jacqueline du Pre, a Schumann piano concerto and a bluesy number by Nick Charles called Light at the End of the Road.

The homily at the bottom of the order of service read: Life is a fragile proposition, let us each enjoy and celebrate every day.

Comments on: "Ian – Celebration of a life" (5)

  1. Jimi Weber, West Grove, PA said:

    Ian was there for all of us with MPN diseases and I appreciate all the knowledge and the encouragement he shared. Thank you for sharing Ian with us.

  2. Gerry Williams said:

    What a wonderful, selfless person who was a friend in need to us all. I am another one who will miss his sage and calming advice along with his gentle manner.

  3. Sandra McDowell said:

    Thank you for the encouraging information and useful help since I was told I had MF in 2003 . Rest in peace Ian.

  4. Anne Paris said:

    Just thank you. You gave us hope.

  5. Kathy Van Meter said:

    He listened. And having listened he knew just what to say. What a good man.

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