[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.]
I don't know if I have said 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 spite of having cancer. Most recently, I barely accomplished photographing metal legends Black Sabbath at Irvine's Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.
In preparation for the assignment, I was in bed until 3 p.m. 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 when armed with two heavy cameras. But 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.
Once the metal gods conjured up their unholy metallic thunder, the adrenaline would surge through my body and momentarily make me feel normal as I was happily snapping away. The adrenaline was well needed as Ozzy Osbourne deftly grabbed a bucket of water and nailed a photographer, who was completely drenched. I avoided the shower and was pleased with my resulting photos.
As the days went by, though, my fatigue did not improve. I received authorization from my insurance company to start the medication Aranesp (Darbepoetin Alfa) which will help stimulate my red blood cells and hopefully correct my anemia. Although I won't be climbing on a bike to do the Tour De France anytime soon, I just hope I don't have to sleep for fourteen hours in order to shoot a concert.