Two years ago, OC Weekly concert photographer Andrew Youssef was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. Two months ago, his oncologists informed him that his diagnosis was terminal. They gave him weeks — maybe months, if he was lucky — to live. Throughout his cancer battle, Youseff kept shooting concerts and writing about his experience in a column called “Last Shot.” He also continued to find comfort in music, especially his favorite band, Nine Inch Nails. Somewhere along the line, NIN’s frontman, Trent Reznor, caught wind of Youssef’s story and invited him to a rehearsal for their Tension 2013 world tour.
Reznor and Youssef had lunch together, talked about everything from “Breaking Bad” to how much cancer fucking sucks, and quickly became friends.
The two men kept in touch as Youssef’s condition worsened. Youssef titled his most heartbreaking column, the one where he informed his readers that he wasn’t going to make it, after a NIN song called “In This Twilight.”
“Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Nine Inch Nails,” he wrote, “and one of my favorite songs is ‘In This Twilight’. Throughout my diagnosis, the meaning of a lot of the songs I like has changed drastically. This particular song resonates with me during the lyrics ‘As the time is running out… Let me take away your doubt…We can find a better place… In this twilight.’”
Youssef was too sick to attend NIN’s concert in Las Vegas last weekend, but Reznor found a way to make him feel like he was there. In the middle of the show, Reznor took out his phone and called Youssef on FaceTime. ”Andrew. What’s up, man?” he said. “I got some friends I want you to meet.” He panned the phone screen around the crowd. “Can you guys say ‘hi’ to Andrew?” As the audience started chanting Andrew’s name, Trent looked at his sick friend on the screen. “Just wanted to tell you I miss you, man, and I wish you were here.”
And then the band started playing — you guessed it — “In This Twilight”.
Someone pass me a damn tissue. Actually, just give me the whole box. I’m gonna need ‘em.