[Editor's Note: Long-time concert photographer Andrew Youssef found out two years ago that he had stage IV colon cancer. In that time, he has continued to shoot tons of music events, on top of other freelance work and working a day job at a hospital, of all places. As he continues to fight for his life, this series allows him to tell his story in his own words.]
These last two weeks have been some of the most difficult times since my diagnosis. My pain has been all over the map at various intensities, as well as my energy level. Medications can improve these factors to a certain degree, but overall I feel like the photograph of Marty McFly from Back To The Future that is slowly vanishing. Luckily, I started a new clinical drug trial on Monday that provides me with a new chemotherapy agent that supposedly has good activity against Stage IV metastatic colon cancer.
While I desperately hope the new medication works fast, if it doesn't I may be in trouble. I was looking forward to last week because the Postal Service was playing the beautiful Greek Theatre two nights in a row in the ten-year celebration of their debut album Give Up. The nostalgia of hearing those songs live again would provide a much needed boost to my psyche and overall well-being if I could make it.
It didn't look like I was going to make it the first night, as I had to wrestle with some excruciating stomach pain early in the day. I readjusted my pain medications and took a rather lengthy nap to make the show. The show was fantastic as they played favorites as "Such Great Heights," "Brand New Colony" and "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight."
At the tail end of the set though, I sensed my energy was waning. I had to leave during the last song, "Brand New Colony," as I needed to sit down in my car and gather my strength for the ride home. The energy from its performance definitely provided that extra boost. Unfortunately, It brings up the dilemma of whether I should be even going to concerts if I don't have the energy to enjoy them.
While I didn't need to go to two nights in a row, I figured this could literally be my last shot and soldiered on to the second night. I had felt fine for most of the day. As the evening progressed, though, I could tell that my energy level was decreasing and pain level was rising. It was so bad at one point that I contemplated leaving after shooting the opener, Divine Fits. It took an intense amount of fortitude, but I managed to successfully shoot three songs of the Postal Service and hurried home to take some more pain medications.
It is difficult to mentally want to accomplish things that your body can barely handle. My stubbornness can be probably considered recklessness, but I'm trying to accomplish as much as I can without saying that cancer held me back. Listening to the Postal Service brings back a lot of good memories of when I was healthy and represented a good time in my life. My need to see these shows is a reflection of how bad I want those good times back.
See Also: - Last Shot: A Concert Photographer's Battle With Cancer - Last Shot: Helplessness Blues at a Fleet Foxes Concert - Last Shot: Chemical Warfare Takes Its Toll - Last Shot: Photographing Coachella with Cancer is Like Running an Ultramarathon - Last Shot: Time Is Running Out - Last Shot: Chemotherapy Leaves Me Seeing "Stars" With Hum - Last Shot: Battling Cancer to Shoot the Red Hot Chili Peppers - Last Shot: Telling Your Friends You Have Cancer - Last Shot: The Time Juliana Hatfield Made Me Forget I Have Cancer - Last Shot: The Difficulty Of Updating Friends About My Health - Last Shot: The Roller Coaster of Cancer - Last Shot: Working a Steady Job While Fighting Cancer - Last Shot: Tumor Levels On the Rise