Andrew Youssef Talks About His Last Shot Column in His Own Words

Categories: Last Shot

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Lindsey Best
Andrew Youssef will be remembered for a lot of things, not least of which was his ability to make a reporter's job exponentially easier by being an astute, thoughtful human being, even under the most difficult circumstances. Throughout his entire career, Youssef was used to being the one asking questions, listening, gabbing valuable information and relaying it to his readers. But when he decided to start his Last Shot column, which would eventually lead to a cover story on his life, suddenly he was the one having the reporter's lens turned on him. We had the pleasure of doing an in depth interview with Youssef in which, among other things, he talked about how his column and how thankful he was for the impact it had on both himself and those who followed it. Here now are some lasting thoughts from the man, the myth, the legend--in his own words.

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Last Shot: Make a "Wish" with Nine Inch Nails

Categories: Last Shot

Lindsey Best
Andrew Youssef
[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 allows him to tell his story in his own words.]

My life continues to be a whirlwind since I posted my column about going into palliative care: coordinating visits with friends, tying up loose ends, sending more emails, and trying to find a break in between it all to have some quiet time to just unwind and decompress.

The way I decompress is by reliving some of my favorite moments. Flying to San Francisco to see Nine Inch Nails at Outside Lands and seeing them again at the Troubadour definitely qualify as top moments and had me at peace, realizing I could live with the fact I might not be able to see them on Nov. 8 at Staples Center.

*Last Shot: A Concert Photographer's Battle With Cancer


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Last Shot: Shake the Disease

Categories: Last Shot

Lindsey Best
Andrew Youssef
[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.]

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.

*Last Shot: A Concert Photographer's Battle With Cancer


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Last Shot: In This Twilight

Categories: Last Shot

Lindsey Best
Andrew Youssef
[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 allows him to tell his story in his own words.]

This is the most difficult column I will ever write. Although it wasn't easy admitting to everyone that I had Stage IV colon cancer in my first column, I now have more important and difficult news to convey to all my friends and colleagues. Unfortunately, the new clinical trial medication did not improve my condition as my most recent CT scan showed my disease has worsened.

After consulting my oncologists they recommended that I seek palliative care and eventually hospice care since I have weeks to months to live. Although I knew the diagnosis of Stage IV colon cancer provided a low percentage of survival, one always has to keep some faith that they can fight and win the war against cancer. Immediately, a flood of emotions washed over me upon hearing this sobering news.

*Last Shot: A Concert Photographer's Battle With Cancer

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Last Shot: Fatigue 1 Andrew 0

Categories: Last Shot

Lindsey Best
Andrew Youssef
[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.]

Don't know if I have mentioned it before, but I would like to reiterate that having cancer sucks. As I mentioned in last week's installment, I have been battling fatigue. I have had a good track record of completing my photo assignments in light of having cancer. Most recently, I barely accomplished photographing metal legends Black Sabbath at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

In preparation for the assignment, I was in bed till 3pm. I stored as much energy as possible and made my way down to Irvine. The walk from the parking lot to the actual stage seemed like miles armed with two heavy cameras. I would use a wheelchair or a stretcher to photograph Black Sabbath as they definitely are at the top of my bucket list of bands I have wanted to photograph.

*Last Shot: A Concert Photographer's Battle With Cancer

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Last Shot: Nine Inch Nails Helps Me Find My Way

Categories: Last Shot

Lindsey Best
Andrew Youssef
[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.]

Fatigue has been my worst enemy as of late. It seems like I can sleep for fourteen hours and still not feel properly rested. Over the last couple of weeks, my hemoglobin and hematocrit have been dropping causing me to become anemic. Mentally I'm alert and have the will and desire to accomplish tasks but my body just can't handle the burden. Even when I walk around the house doing simple chores, I get winded.

I am in a holding pattern for the next two weeks as I will finally get a PET scan to see if the new medication that I've been taking has had any therapeutic benefit. Unfortunately, one of my tumor levels has doubled from 586 to 1013 which is much higher compared to when I was originally diagnosed. While my other tumor level has dropped from 1400 to 1086. My health seems to be in a most precarious position.

*Last Shot: A Concert Photographer's Battle With Cancer

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Last Shot: FYF Fest 1* Cancer 0

Categories: Last Shot

Lindsey Best
Andrew Youssef
[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.]

These last couple of weeks have been difficult to say the least. It was painful to miss writing my column last week as I was basically bedridden for most of the week dealing with managing my pain and controlling my nausea and vomiting. I'm still losing weight which isn't a good sign and it feels like my resolve is weakening along with my body. It is very easy to lie in bed and take pain pills to mask the mental as well as physical pain.

On one of the more particularly difficult days, I was restless and tired yet couldn't manage to get comfortable. It was absolutely horrible. Definitely one of the lower days in my journey since my diagnosis. Luckily, the fog of feeling horrible subsided and some semblance of strength started to take form. Approaching fast on the horizon was the FYF Festival held at the Los Angeles Historic Park which had one of my favorite bands, My Bloody Valentine playing the headline slot.

*Last Shot: A Concert Photographer's Battle With Cancer

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Last Shot: Outside Lands 1 Cancer 0

Categories: Last Shot

Lindsey Best
Andrew Youssef
[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.]

The last couple of weeks have been extremely difficult in managing my pain and new side effects from my clinical study medication. My anxiety levels grew to new heights as the Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco quickly approached. Was I physically healthy enough to carry two camera bodies and weave through a festival crowd?

Even though my bags were packed and the flights were booked, I almost pulled the plug on the whole weekend as I was going to let cancer scare me into not accomplishing a goal that I had set. Since my diagnosis of Stage IV colon cancer in February of 2011, I've managed to photograph 331 concerts. I refused to let cancer get the better of me and proceeded to head to the airport on Thursday night.

*Last Shot: A Concert Photographer's Battle With Cancer

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Last Shot: A New Chemotherapy Drug Means New Side Effects

Categories: Last Shot

Lindsey Best
Andrew Youssef
[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.]

After going a few weeks without chemotherapy, I was mentally relieved to have started some new form of medication (called TAS-102) when I enrolled in a clinical drug trial. The difficult part now is waiting to see if the chemotherapy will work and how my body will react. Another confounding factor is that my body was still washing out of the prior medications that I was taking.

Even though I stopped taking Erbitux (Cetuximab) and Tarceva (Erlotinib) nearly two months ago, these medications can still remain circulating in your body for up to three months. The horrible acne rash that they caused has finally subsided and my skin isn't as inflamed as it used to be. Both medications also caused a fair amount of diarrhea which has calmed down significantly.

*Last Shot: A Concert Photographer's Battle With Cancer

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Last Shot: Navigating the World of a Clinical Drug Trial

Categories: Last Shot

Lindsey Best
Andrew Youssef
[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.]

It has been two and half years since my initial diagnosis of Stage IV colon cancer. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago, other times not so much. During this time, I've been on a vast number of chemotherapy medications looking for the miracle drug that would either cure or contain my cancer. My tumor levels have been all over the place going as low as back to normal and high as back to when I was initially diagnosed.

As I mentioned in prior columns, my cancer has continued to spread and now resides in spine, kidneys, thyroid, lungs as well as nearly fifty percent of my liver. My oncologist made the recommendation that I seek a clinical trial to find an investigational new drug that would have a different mechanism of action to eradicate my cancer. This is a scary proposition as chemotherapy inherently has a number of unique side effects that can be just as damaging as the cancer itself.

*Last Shot: A Concert Photographer's Battle With Cancer

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