Science & Medicine

Ian Sweet — the human face of blood cancer

Ian Sweet,  the human face of Blood Cancer Awareness Month

 Let us tell the story of Ian Sweet, suffering from acute myeloid leukemia, awaiting further chemotherapy to prepare for a stem cell transplant.

 An MPN community leader, young and otherwise healthy, this Australian scientist and caregiver, after a long period of hydroxyurea treatment for his polycythemia vera developed AML.  Over the entire nearly two decade history of on-line MPN patient support, Ian Sweet has been on the front lines…daily.  Every single day, even when he wasn’t one of the familiar responding managers of MPN-NET.

Even now, he still is.

Two short anecdotes might serve to sketch out his story.  Another Australian, let’s call her Molly, contacted us for help. She was isolated in a remote, rural area.  She had no idea what myelofibrosis was but knew her husband was failing rapidly  and his physician thought it might be a blood disease like myelofibrosis.  We put her in touch with the Forum and MPN-NET and told her of Ian.  Weak and dispirited after failing a second round of chemotherapy, he was unlikely we said, to respond for awhile but his was a name to remember..

He wrote her two e-mails, immediately, one short, one long, putting her in touch with people in Australia and giving her contacts for international on-line support.  Even neutropenic,  leukemic, and anemic, he was able to fill her life with knowledge and hope and helped move her husband along a therapeutic path.

And then there’s his love for life and his wife, Marie. After his third round of chemo failed to put his leukemia in remission – thus postponing a possible stem cell transplant —  he faced a week of recovery before a new, promising treatment was tried.

He wrote  In the meantime I’m having a week off the chemo, and with gradually rising Hg (or so I assume) I’m feeling pretty good. Marie and I are off for 3 days “down the coast” – the S coast of NSW is only 2 hours drive from Canberra, and has dozens of beautiful beaches, inlets, small towns and spots to walk, reflect, and so on. We’re looking forward to it after weeks of hospital visits, blood tests and assorted medical interventions.

 We can have well-founded hopes for his complete remission on this new treatment,  the so-called FLAG regimen for refractory AML.  Whether we pray for him, hope for his full recovery, or simply hold him in our minds and hearts, Ian Sweet is a bright image of the best in each of us…and a reminder of the deadly enemy we all face.
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©, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided  full and clear credit is given to with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Comments on: "Ian Sweet — the human face of blood cancer" (9)

  1. Sadly Ian passed away on 28 Dec A great guy, and colleague/field party leader. Commiserations to Marie and family.

  2. Thanks for reposting this so I could read about Ian.

  3. Constantly holding Ian in warm, healing light.

  4. Ian has helped teach us about not only the scientific factors of MPN diseases but more important, he has taught us how to handle it with grace, compasssion and a hope-filled spirit. You, dear Ian, are the best example of the “power of one”. Thank you for being there for all of us. As always, sending you prayer, support and gratitude.
    Diane- Wife of Steve, ET 2005, MF 2011, SCT August 2012

  5. Leeya James said:

    I have long enjoyed reading replies and posts from Ian Sweet. He always manages to come across as upbeat and friendly even now as he deals with serious issues beyond PV. You know he IS that type of fellow even if you haven’t met him in person. He has a sincere heart and integrity that I wish everyone could have. Our best to Ian and Marie!

  6. Same with me, Ian also responded to my first inquiry,with knowledge and compassion. Hang in there Ian we are all pulling for you!!!

  7. Ian is a very special person who thinks not of himself but of others. If everyone could be like him, what a wonderful world this would be. He remains in my prayers that he will have a full recovery.

  8. Nathalie Cook said:

    Ian was very quick to respond to my first email to MPD-NET 2yrs ago. His responses to the list are always wise, insightful and positive, while providing a balanced view. You have done so much to support and encourage others Ian, now it’s our turn to support you!

  9. Ian wrote me, too, when I was a newbie to the forums, and I am grateful for what he did.

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