[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 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 maybe in trouble. I was looking forward to this week because The Postal Service were 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 such 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 their 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.
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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 the 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 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.