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September 4th, 2015

Critical Care Team Gives Young Mom Second Chance in Fight Against Cancer

By Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss

Mayo Clinic cancer patient Hollis Younger enjoying timel with family. Three years had passed since Hollis Youngner, 34, had been diagnosed and treated for HER2+ breast cancer. So in late 2014, when the mother of one was "just feeling yucky, tired, nauseous," she says cancer wasn't even on her mind. "I was secretly excited, thinking of ways to tell everyone I was pregnant," she says.

Unfortunately, a chest X-ray, prompted by a complaint of being short of breath, set in motion a series of events that ultimately resulted in a diagnosis of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, a 45-minute CPR session, and questions about whether the young mom would even survive. 

Doctors in Hollis' home state of Georgia found that cancerous cells had invaded her chest, causing fluid build-up around her heart. She was transferred by ambulance to Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, where doctors were preparing for a delicate procedure to drain the fluid.

But shortly after her arrival, Hollis went into cardiac arrest.

A team of almost 30 people gathered at her bedside, working in tandem to do what Mayo Clinic does best – save lives. Representatives from critical care, nursing, respiratory medicine, pharmacy, midlevel practitioners and technicians worked for almost an hour to treat an unexpected pulmonary embolism.

To outsiders, spending so long doing CPR might seem unusual. But to intensivist John E. Moss, M.D., Critical Care, the dedication was necessary to give Hollis the best chance for a good outcome.

"We knew what was wrong with her. We just needed time for the medication to work," says Dr. Moss. Following the CPR, Hollis was put into a hypothermic coma in hopes of avoiding brain damage.

"The doctors told us to hope for the best but prepare for the worst," recalls Pete Livezey, Hollis' father.

Miraculously, Hollis pulled through – and without any deficits. Today, Hollis is doing well. She continues her fight against breast cancer.

"The doctors and nurses, the staff at Mayo Clinic are amazing," she says. But she's particularly fond of Dr. Moss and the critical care team at the hospital. "Forty-five minutes. It gave me a second chance," she says.

Watch the video below to learn more about Youngner's story, which highlights the Mayo Clinic Model of Care.



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Tags: breast cancer, Cancer, Dr. Diaz-Gomez, Dr. John Moss, Dr. Moreno, Florida Campus, Hollis, Hospital Medicine, metastatic cancer, pulmonary embolism, Women's Health

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