One of the hardest things for a parent battling a terminal illness is knowing that they won’t be able to watch their children grow up. Ian Davis could sadly relate to that, as he fought Motor Neurone Disease for seven years. And with the condition worsening, he decided to share a heartbreaking photograph of his son in October 2018.
A resident of Melbourne, Australia, Ian worked as a doctor, while his wife Melissa Yang also had a job at one of the city’s hospitals. Together, they were the proud parents of a young son named Archer. But in 2011 their lives changed forever after a devastating diagnosis.
Unfortunately, Ian discovered that he was suffering from Motor Neurone Disease (MND) at the age of 33. A deadly condition that causes you to gradually lose control of your motor skills, MND currently has no cure. However, despite receiving that heartbreaking diagnosis, the father nonetheless decided to fight back.
In 2014 Ian became one of the founders of FightMND, a foundation dedicated to finding a cure for the disease. Utilizing his skills as a doctor, he was able to share vital medical knowledge with the organization. And he also played a pivotal role in its fundraising efforts.
Incredibly, the foundation has raised over $40 million since then, while bringing MND into the public spotlight. With this in mind, FightMND hosted the inaugural Australasian Motor Neurone Disease Symposium in March 2018. This event welcomed 400 representatives from across the globe, all dedicated to finding a cure to MND.
Unfortunately, Ian’s condition had deteriorated by that point, and he had been admitted to hospital. Fearing that he might not have much time left, he set up a fundraising page for Melissa and Archer on the website My Cause. And from there, the doctor revealed his family’s financial situation.
“MND is kicking my butt today,” Ian wrote on the site. “I’m in hospital at the moment fighting pneumonia, and the beast just might get me this time. I’m not ready to go, I still have so much left to do, but I might not have a choice this time. MND has devastated my family, and I am such an emotional, physical burden on my family.”
“This disease has attacked my dignity and threatens to have one last undignified impact,” Ian continued. “Funerals are ridiculously expensive. My family is in debt, my beautiful wife works four jobs, and we have difficulties paying the mortgage. I won’t be here to provide for my family and look after my boy.”
On that note, Ian finished his message with a heartbreaking plea. “I hope that you will all consider giving generously to help my wife and son,” he added. “Please help put me in the ground so my boy has somewhere to visit me.” Despite his fears though, the doctor made it through that tough period, managing to keep going for a little while longer.
A few months later, however, Ian sadly succumbed to the disease after a seven-year battle, passing away in November 2018. But a short time before his death, the dad made one last Facebook post about his son, which included an emotional picture of the pair.
“Today I say farewell,” Ian wrote. “Thank you everyone for all the support, love, and compassion over the years during my fight. It has been some ride. I will leave this broken body with a full heart. Please tell my boy I love him and I’m so proud to be his dad. This photo taken yesterday is our final moment together.”
After that, Ian made one last emotional request, as he looked to stay in Archer’s life beyond his passing. “You can also do me the favor of writing to tell my boy about me to his email address,” he posted, then providing his followers with the address.
Ian’s words clearly resonated on Facebook, with his post earning over 2,000 likes and more than 450 shares. The father’s goodbye also garnered close to 300 comments, as people paid their respects to him and his family following their fight against MND.
Meanwhile, Ian’s foundation paid its own emotional tribute, with the FightMND chairman hailing his dedication to the cause. “Since the foundation was established following Ian’s own diagnosis, his tireless work, passion and commitment to the ongoing fight to find a cure has impacted and inspired people affected by MND worldwide,” Bill Guest told Australian website news.com.au.
After touching on March’s Australasian Motor Neurone Disease Symposium, Guest then continued to talk about Ian’s importance to the foundation. “Without Ian Davis’ vision, FightMND would not have been founded and we would not have been able to progress as far and as quickly as we have in medical research for MND,” he said.
“Ian’s dedication to the fight against MND continued until his final days, ensuring in his absence the same rigor will be applied to the pursuit of the most promising research,” Guest added. “All the people affected by the disease, be they patients, families, carers and researchers, have a great deal to thank Ian for.”
Ian’s work with FightMND certainly made a significant impact. But he also left an indelible mark on his loved ones, especially on his wife Melissa. Indeed, a short time after his passing, she took to Facebook to write a lengthy tribute to her husband, reminiscing about their time together.
“[Ian] was a force of nature, swept me off my feet and took me on the ride of my life,” Melissa wrote. “It’s been wild. No one knew how to have fun quite like Ian, and we had a lot of it. I was privileged to be by his side in this life, and as he passed into the next.”
From there, Melissa then spoke about her husband’s final days with their family. “He came back to us, and in true Ian style made sure that we would have each other to lean on when he was no longer with us,” she added. “Now wishing I could have him for just one more hour. My love, my storm, I miss you already.”
As for the My Cause page that Ian set up for Melissa and Archer back in March, donations continued to pour in after his passing. Incredibly, the page has raised close to $125,000 in that time, far surpassing its initial $50,000 goal. So while the doctor himself might be gone, he’s still helping the people closest to him.