Everybody knows that Beastie Boy Adam Yauch succumbed to cancer on Friday (May 4), but fewer seem to know exactly what he was up against. The rapper's three-year battle began in 2009 with a rare diagnosis: he had malignant tumors in the parotid gland, one of the salivary glands near the jaw and the ear, that had spread to the nearby lymph node. Not the best news, but he remained hopeful.

A week before undergoing treatment, Yauch posted a YouTube video (watch it below) disclosing his diagnosis to fans and discussing his treatment. "The good news is that they did scans of my whole body, and it's only localized in the one area, it's not in a place that effects my voice -- so that's nice, thats' convenient," Adam Yauch says in the 2009 clip, supposedly his last video interview. "It's a bit of a setback, it's a pain in the ass. But this is something that's very treatable and in most cases they're able to completely get rid of it."

Yauch underwent surgery to remove the affected gland and was treated with localized radiation. By January 2011, bandmate Mike D was reportedly telling BBC Radio 1 that Yauch had won his cancer battle, calling it "a good thing" and that saying "we're really happy about it."

But less than a week later, Yauch issued an email statement saying that despite reports of his recovery, he was still sick. “While I’m grateful for all the positive energy people are sending my way, reports of my being totally cancer free are exaggerated," he wrote. “I’m continuing treatment, staying optimistic and hoping to be cancer free in the near future.”

By then, Yauch had started eating an all-vegan diet and was discussing non-Western treatment options with doctors in Tibet. In retrospect, it seems that the practicing Buddhist knew his his recent treatment had failed and was looking for other options. Unfortunately for Yauch, his family, his bandmates, his friends and his fans, he never quite found the right ones.

Watch Adam "MCA" Reveal His Cancer Diagnosis and Discuss His Treatment

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