Last Shot: Shake the Disease
[Editor's Note: Longtime concert photographer and fellow Weekling Andrew Youssef found out almost two years ago that he had Stage IV colon cancer. In that time, he has continued to shoot tons of music events for us on top of other freelance work and holding a day job at a hospital, of all places. As he continues to fight for his life, this series--Last Shot--allows him to tell his story in his own words.]
Lindsey Best Andrew Youssef
Writing my last column was definitely one of the hardest things that I've ever done. While I was still bearing the emotional weight of the dealing with the reactions from the column, the flood of good wishes, prayers and tearful conversations that ensued was like adding another ton of emotional weight to my psyche. A sign that things were in overdrive was that I got a warning that my cell phone minutes were exceeded. This is something that never happens.
It quickly became apparent that I needed to photograph a show to regain some normalcy in my crazy life. While I'm in palliative care, it doesn't mean I'm incapable of functioning and completing normal tasks. Luckily, I had the opportunity to photograph the opening night of Depeche Mode at the Staples Center for the Weekly. My strength is definitely not where it should be but with the help of my brother who drove and helped carried my camera bag, I successfully accomplished my mission.
I strategically medicated myself with Ritalin which is used in cancer patients to keep them awake and alert or I would have just slept in bed for 14 hours. I also took Zofran to prevent nausea as I've unfortunately developed a untimely knack for throwing up. While shooting Depeche Mode is a nerve rattling proposition from the outset, I felt like I was photographing my first show all over again.
After documenting the first three songs with my camera, I was very winded and my arms were like jelly as I noticed my strength and stamina have decreased significantly. While I could have been content photographing Depeche Mode once, my will still wanted to prove that cancer still couldn't keep me down.