[Editor's note: This article was orginally printed by our sister paper, OC Weekly, where Andrew Youssef is based. Youssef is the author of the Last Shot column that we have been running, which chronicles his struggle against cancer in his own words.]
Sneakers squeaking on white tiles, Andrew Youssef roams Long Beach Memorial Hospital. It's 5:30 p.m., and for the bespectacled, well-mannered pharmacist, that means quitting time. He isn't heading home to a sloshy TV dinner, a plush couch and HBO. Instead, he can't wait to ditch his scrubs and pursue his true calling--his night job.
Youssef dips into the locker room and rips off his turquoise jump suit. As a freelance concert photographer over the past seven years, he has shot everyone from Black Sabbath to Cold War Kids. The rush to change and get back into the action has hardly lost its thrill. Switching into his usual all-black uniform of jeans, a T-shirt and a windbreaker, he fetches his trusty Nikon D4 and his blue bag of pills and is off into the neon night.
Nearly three years ago, Youssef was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. Since then, he has held fast in a heroic battle against the illness. His survival rate past five years was less than 6 percent. Today, as the cancer in his body advances, the 38-year-old finds himself nearing the end of his fight; recently, doctors gave him weeks to months to live.