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Tough times … Easy choices May 22, 2010

Posted by Ian Clatworthy in Uncategorized.

It’s been a rough few weeks with news from my doctors about a new (rectal cancer) tumor that they are unable to remove. No-one can say with certainty how long I’ve got to live – cancer progression is a very individual thing – but my surgeon has indicated it could be as little as 3 months. Furthermore, there’s nothing Western medicine can do to prolong my life, though it can – and has – got my terrible pain of the last few months under control.

News like that is really hard to process. I wanted a second opinion and ended up receiving 5 or 6 of them from numerous specialists. The consensus was unanimous …

“Go out and enjoy every minute of the time you have left”.

Paradoxically, the worse the news, the easier it turns out to decide what to do. While I’m truly blessed with the best job in the world, it’s time to spend less time in front of a computer and more time with my family and friends, particularly my 3 kids. From Monday, I’ll be working part-time (for the first time since 1988).

Time also for a really good holiday. There are places I’d like to see and, quite frankly, it’s now or never! Given the nature of travel insurance, I’m now unlikely to see many of those places overseas but that still leaves a huge list of amazing places in Australia to visit.

Some people would say I’m lucky to know in advance that my time is nearly up and that many others never get that forward notice. I’m in two minds about that. The down side is that thinking about one’s death becomes terribly paralyzing at times. I frequently get angry about dying so young. There is still so much I want to do and so much I want to see. I strongly believe that we’re all responsible for making the world a better place. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved but, given another 43 years, it could be so much more.

Here’s hoping that I can prove the doctors wrong and live for many more years instead of just a few months. Miracles do happen. I plan to stay out of pain, focus on really good nutrition, rest a lot, enjoy every moment and hope the cancer spreads slowly (or disappears altogether!). In the meantime, here’s hoping someone has a mega-brainwave and cures cancer. How hard can it be?



1. Gour - May 22, 2010

Hello Ian,

I’m sorry to hear about your ongoing health problems.

I wrote you some time ago suggesting to consult my astrology teacher to find out what would bethe best cure for you.

Now, I’ll do the same – ask (Prashna) what is prognosis with your diseases.

Otoh, I believe it is important to understand that there is no death – we (solu) live eternally but are captured in this temporary body, so I cannot suggest you “Go out and enjoy every minute of the time you have left”.

There is no enjoyment in this world where we take birth, grow old, become sick and face death.

“Enjoying” will not bring you peace and chase away fear which are just helping your ‘friend’ to spread more.

You need some spiritual medicine for the soul ’cause only spiritual practice can change course of karma…

So, this is my last opportunity to give you some advice (if you decide to “go out and enjoy” you probably won’t have time for blog any longer) and try to help you spiritually, although I’m sad you put faith in (material) medicine. 😦

Ayurveda knows much better how this body/mind work and could help you much better, but, of course, one needs to know about the timing as well (that’s why I suggested you Vedic astrology long ago).

I’ll pray for you, my friend, hoping that you’ll take proper steps now when doctors cannot provide real solution any longer…


Ian Clatworthy - May 24, 2010

Hi Gour,

Each of us have differing amounts of faith in medical and spiritual healing. The paths each of us follow at times like this will differ accordingly. Rest assured that I’m just as comfortable with my faith as you are with yours. I have no wish to debate their relative merits sorry.

Thanks for your kind thoughts and best wishes.


2. Geri - May 22, 2010

I think we really need to thank Canonical for their support through the last few years. I am grateful to you for ever. You are a model of how a company should work and the best employer ever.
You are there in the hard times and I wish the best times for all of you.
Geri Clatworthy

3. Alister Scott - May 24, 2010

My thoughts are with you Ian.
I believe your idea to travel sounds like a good idea. To quote one of my favourite writers, Alain De Botton:
“The reason to travel: there are inner transitions we can’t properly cement without a change of locations.”

4. Alexander Belchenko - May 24, 2010

I’m with you, Ian. I will hope that you’ll be here for a long time and one day we will meet each other.

5. Parth Malwankar - May 26, 2010

I am sorry to hear about your health Ian.
I have known you only through the wonderful work you have done with bzr-explorer and bzr docs and through some of your early posts on DVCS. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to meet you at UDS. It would have been great to have gotten a chance to know you better and to work with you.

As you say in your post, cancer progression is a very individual thing, so I wish you the best and hope you enjoy and make the most of the time you have.

6. Martin Pool - May 26, 2010

My thoughts are with you too. It’s been such a pleasure and inspiration to know you, both before and during this episode. I hope you have a great holiday.

7. Ben Finney - May 26, 2010

I hope you’ve received good medical care. I am confident the advice you relay (“Go out and enjoy every minute of the time you have left”) is excellent advice.

Let’s hope that your time with us is unexpectedly long and pleasant. You wouldn’t be the first, by far. I have long-time friends for whom that is true.

A happy environment and the support of loved ones will often convince our bodies to swing the pendulum back. Either way, it’s a tonic to be highly recommended. So I wish you the best, and that you’ll relax and find the pleasure you seek with those who bring you joy.

8. Matt Doran - May 26, 2010

Hi Ian,

I only know you from reading about your good work on the bzr mailing lists, but my thoughts are with you.

It’s so hard to comprehend what you must be going through. But as an outside observer you seem to be handling things with considerable grace.

Best of luck … I wish you well.

9. Matt Zimmerman - May 26, 2010

We know each other only a little, but I wanted to let you know that I’ve been thinking of you with concern and hope. This must be only one of many important decisions you’ve faced along the way, and I wish you well in it.

10. Neil Martinsen-Burrell - May 27, 2010

I hope that your time spent enjoying the things that matter is uncomplicated by all of the things that don’t matter. I’ve appreciated seeing you work your particular skills in the Bazaar arena.

11. Dave Murray / Irongut - May 27, 2010

My thoughts are with you and your family.

Best of luck… now go grab life by the short and curlies!

12. Stephen Turnbull - May 27, 2010

Ian, I’m sorry to hear about it.

My father got the same news at the age of 47. He managed to surprise his doctors, which gave him enough time to regain balance and experience a peace that he never knew before. He told me the last time we talked that his last few months were in some ways the happiest of his life.

I wish for you that same peace in this difficult time, that you may enjoy the warmth and love of your family and friends now, and, I hope, for a long time to come.

13. Frits Jalvingh - May 27, 2010

Hi Ian.

I wish you and your family lots of strength to cope with this. Please keep up hope and be strong; the human mind is way stronger than people think and can sometimes conquer the body – I’ve seen it happen. In the meantime love, love, love your life and family and do the things you want to do, I hope you are able to do that for a long time still.

You know, we only met a few times through bug reports and your helpful answers to my questions. Your efforts to make great software and the way you’re helping people bonds them to you. Of all the bright lights of mankind your light was a little brighter and touched the paths of lots of others. I hope your trail goes on for a long time.

My thoughts are with you, in hope.

14. Greg - June 27, 2010

Saddening news friend. You remind us that our fragile lives are like a vapor, here for a mere moment, with little to cling to except hope and truth. May God bless you and your family, carers and close friends at this time. Enjoy time off and I hope we hear more from you in the future.

15. Miles GIllham - September 3, 2010

RIP Ian. 31 August 2010. The doctor’s forecast was unfortunately all too accurate. Ian was a wonderful person and will be missed by many.

Alister Scott - September 3, 2010

I am saddened to hear this news. Ian will be missed by all.
Rest in peace.

16. budirj - September 7, 2010

Bye Ian,
we are the rivers
God is the Ocean
we will see you again..

17. Bilal - September 7, 2010

May god grant you heaven and all best wihes for the hereafter..

18. Med berdai - September 11, 2010

Rest in peace Ian.
My condolences to your family.

19. Kyle Nitzsche - September 23, 2010

I met Ian at my first Canonical company meeting in Plymouth, Massachusetts. I found him to be smart, friendly, helpful, communicative, and excellent. I am saddened by his death.

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