Nurse Who Left Home State To Help COVID Patients Is Battling Brain Cancer

Christina Marfice

Despite his brain cancer diagnosis, this Arizona nurse still wants to go wherever help is needed to fight the coronavirus

Ian Youngblood, a 29-year-old firefighter-turned-registered nurse, lives in Arizona. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. hard and New York City was its epicenter, he knew his skills were needed there. So he left his home, and spent three months on the front lines in New York, treating COVID-19 patients. Now, back home in Arizona, Youngblood is fighting a different type of health battle: He was recently diagnosed with brain cancer.

Youngblood’s family and friends set up a GoFundMe for him, where they describe him as having “a big heart for others.”

“Ian has opened his heart and hands, gaining new loved ones and families as he worked to help others fight their battles, and now he needs our help to fight for him,” it reads.

Toward the end of his three months working as a nurse in New York, Youngblood started experiencing sudden headaches, nausea, and seizures. According to his GoFundMe, he was admitted to the intensive care unit at White Plains Hospital. After a series of tests, doctors were able to determine that he was suffering from Grade IV Glioblastoma, a rare type of brain cancer that kills more than 10,000 Americans every year. The cancer is terminal and has no known cure. Surgery is often required to remove the tumor, followed by radiation and chemotherapy.


“To hear him get that diagnosis, it just makes you question everything in life,” Youngblood’s friend Nathan Kathol told local ABC affiliate KNXV.

Youngblood may be able to participate in clinical trials that are ongoing to test new treatments for his rare form of cancer, but some of them are “blind” studies, which means he wouldn’t know whether he’s being given the actual experimental drug, or a placebo to help test its effects. In the meantime, he’s raising funds for his treatment, as he was uninsured at the time he was diagnosed. His GoFundMe has a goal of $180,000, and as of press time, was about $50,000 short of meeting that amount.

“Chemo is gonna be expensive and we’re gonna try to really attack that tumor,” Youngblood told KNXV. The young nurse hopes to get well enough to continue traveling to help fight surges of coronavirus cases in other states.

“I mean COVID is still ramping up all over the place,” he said. “It’s a calling, you know. If I am feeling well enough I may volunteer to go to Texas where cases are skyrocketing.”

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