Ian's diagnosis of Stage 3 Mediastinal Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in February of 2011 came as a shock to everyone and for 16 long months he fought against this rare, aggressive form of cancer. Cancer eventually took his life on June 13, 2012 but not his spirit, his kindness, his sense of humor, his love for his family & friends, the art work he left behind or our memories. Fighting cancer was the most difficult thing he ever had to do and he handled it with more grace and courage than a lot of adults. He faced his diagnosis with dignity and strength and never gave up. He never let his battle with cancer stop him from doing the things he loved. He entered and won First Place in the Santa Maria Arts Council Grants Showcase for Fine Arts in 2011, he continued to attend Allan Hancock College creating some amazing pieces of art & sculpture, played the piano, spent time with his friends and began violin lessons - all while fighting the disease that would eventually take his life. He was an amazing young man and we are so blessed to call him our son.
Ian dreamed of attending the Rhode Island School of Design and wanted to major in sculpture - we think he would have excelled at that as well.
Ian was the youngest in a family of five. He was the baby brother to Alex & Amy. It was soon evident that his parents had an unusual child on their hands. Ian could carry on an adult conversation by the time he was two years old; he would often use 'big' words that his parents were sure he didn't know the meaning of, but when asked to define the word, knew exactly what that word meant.
A Note From Ian...
Just a few days after Ian's doctor had informed us that his cancer was terminal and he had just weeks or days to live, Ian composed this note to his friends, family and care givers. We thought we would share it with you because it gives you a small glimpse into who Ian was and the grace with which he handled, not just his life but his death.
Goodbye, I Love you guys
June 5, 2012 at 12:16am
Some of you know I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in February of 2011. Doctors said I could tolerate chemo easily and that I could be cured in 3-5 months with high probability. Unfortunately, no treatment has been completely successful, some even produced no results at all. Things have steadily gotten worse for about 6 months; it's harder to move and speak, and my fatigue is increasing. Just over a week ago I was admitted to the hospital for severe abdominal pain, which has since cleared up, but testing has revealed graver news. The cancer has refused to respond to the latest chemo treatment, and has returned with nasty aggression, spreading rapidly in my lungs and liver. I've run out of literally every option. There's nothing more to do, so I am going to go home, make myself comfortable, say goodbye and eventually die. The doctors say I have days or weeks left, so I have a few things left to settle out. I want to say thank you to all the doctors who helped to treat me to the best of their abilities, especially my oncologist Dr. Brian DiCarlo, who was with me the entire journey. I thank all the nurses and assistant staff in every practice, lab and hospital I visited. I thank every phlebotomist who had the skill to puncture the vein on the first try. I thank all of the strangers (mostly from my mother's church) who sent me cards and sent dinners to our house when we were too exhausted to think about cooking. I thank my friends, who make me laugh so much, who I care about deeply and who made me feel like myself-- before the cancer. And most of all, I thank my family, who has showered me with love and given me hope and has never given up on me. I've needed them more than anyone; they were constant companions and made this process so much more bearable. I could share a little load off of my back and onto theirs, and for that I will love them forever (which isn't that long... oh well) Sorry if this comes as a surprise to you, but it hasn't surprised me very much. It's been a long time coming, and I've had a lot of time to think about my own death. I feel at peace and I feel ready. Death doesn't scare me anymore, but I am afraid of the sadness I will leave behind me. Please be comforted by the fact that I have enjoyed the short life I lived, and that I am not sad to die.
With much love, Ian Hassett
Ian could be stubborn but also had a tender heart. He excelled at most things that he attempted and a lot of things came easily for him. He was consistently at the top of his class and testing in the 98% for children his age across the country. He began playing piano around the age of eight and drawing soon followed. He had a natural aptitude for both. He also developed a strong interest in sculpture and the violin.
Ian was smart and funny, leaving his family with some wonderful stories - his infamous "I'm only three" story is well known to those who knew and loved him. He supplied us with "Ianisms" each year, which his mom would include in their annual Christmas letter.
Ian M Hassett Foundation