Nurse Who Braved NYC's Coronavirus Outbreak Now Facing Brain Cancer

In times of crisis, look for the helpers, Mr. Rogers always reminded us. Well, we've been in times of unprecedented crisis in 2020, and the one saving grace to it all has been the sheer number of helpers we've been able to see. You don't have to look far to find people who want to help out in their own way, from making their own PPE to delivering groceries to vulnerable people in need.

And if you looked for helpers in NYC in April and May, when things were darkest there, you might have seen Ian Youngblood, who wasn't even from NYC.

When cases were skyrocketing in the Big Apple, Ian didn't hesitate.


The 29-year-old Arizona nurse jumped on a plane, leaving home to head directly into the fray to help out. Ian spent three months in NYC, supporting doctors with his emergency room experience when things were at their most grim. He was even known to shell out to supply bottled water for the other 5,000 staff members at the hospital, his friend and fellow nurse Nathan Kathol recalled.

"One day I overheard them always calling him water boy, and I found out that he was paying out of his own pocket for all of us," Kathol told KNXV.

Everything went well until the last couple of weeks of Ian's deployment, when he started experiencing headaches, nausea, seizures, and intense pain.


Ian went to White Plains Hospital in New York to get himself checked out, where, according to a GoFundMe, he received a terrible diagnosis: a Grade IV Glioblastoma.

"To hear him get that diagnosis, it just makes you question everything in life," Kathol said.

Glioblastoma is the same brain cancer that claimed the life of Senator John McCain. It's a rare, aggressive cancer that requires surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to treat.

Ian has already gone through a craniotomy and returned to Phoenix, and he's due to start chemo, but there's a hitch: he's not insured.


Nevertheless, he's remaining optimistic and upbeat. "Chemo is gonna be expensive and we’re gonna try to really attack that tumor with the chemo," he told KNXV.

It's a steep hill to climb, but a GoFundMe set up to help cover the costs has raised more than $120,000 so far, with a goal of raising $180,000.

And it looks like it's going to take more than cancer to slow Ian down.

Facebook | Everett Paramurse Moss

He says he's raring to get back into the coronavirus fight despite the diagnosis.

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

h/t: KNXV