"He sings, he is good looking and besides he won over death: these three details together make that people adore him" (R. Giménez)

"In 1987 I was offered the filming of La Bohème by Luigi Comencini. (...) I started feeling a bit 'strange' I would say. I had an annoying dental infection, and I thought I would go to the hospital for a check-up to know what was going on, even rushing people examining me because at 2pm the filming would resume. But they say "We are very sorry but you need to stay for today and tomorrow", and so the adventure started. Dr Jean Bernard came to examine me and together with his team they informed me that my diagnosis was acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. I remember very well, it was Monday 13 July." (Josep Carreras)

Josep Carreras filming La Bohème in Paris, 1987.
With these words, Josep Carreras explained how the abrupt, terrible diagnosis interrupted his glorious career in the La Fleur documentary (2013): he was hospitalized in Paris on 13 July 1987, 30 years ago today, and on the day after, Bastille day, his dream stopped.

Josep Carreras out of the Quiron Clinic in Barcelona, 1987.

Since this blog exists, we have remembered this severe moment several times here, so it's difficult to find new words: this is why no other words but Josep's are the most appropriate on the 30th anniversary. The reasons for we constantly have it in mind goes beyond our mere admiration a superb artist who went through and overcame such a hard situation: actually we cannot stop thinking and talking about it because that moment marked his life and made that there is a "before" and an "after". 

"In such situation, you have the possibility to get up with your machinery, you go to the bathroom and watch yourself at the mirror and you can see the film of your life: I was 40 at that time and had a very full life. My career was so intense, that I necessarily had to put many things aside." (Josep Carreras)

But suddenly the opera stage turned into a hospital, and singing was just meant to go through chemo and radiotherapy. Being far from home was part of the game, but not to undergo a bone marrow autologous transplant; spending time alone was normal routine in hotel rooms, but not in a sterile room in order to avoid anything which could put your life in danger.
If now approximately 75% of children and 50% of adults win the battle, the situation was incredibly different 30 years ago: 10% possibilities to recover required a scientific team of excellence headed by Ciril Rozman in Barcelona and Donnall Thomas, pioneer of bone marrow transplantation, in Seattle where an experimental drug was available and finally essential.

Josep Carreras and his team of doctors: Albert Grañena, Ciril Rozman, Dean Buckner, Jordi Permanyer and E. Donnall Thomas (Nobel Prize 1990)

"The word leukaemia, or cancer, before him was much more a taboo, and he made that this world could be regarded as a curable disease, since he is the most representative evidence of that." (Raquel)

There is an "after". With such background, the most comprehensible reaction in case of recovery was go back to life and leave all this behind. Josep Carreras knew such circumstance was going to be just a parenthesis in his life, and that if he had recovered he would have been back and sing again, but more than this he would have tried to be a better person: for his gratitude towards scientific community and people he opted for an option which implied the risk of dealing with the disease forever.

As you all know, this decision has implied the establishment of a leukaemia foundation (in Barcelona, with further branches in Germany, Switzerland and United States) which has carried an incredible task for almost 30 years: among other things, it is responsible for the creation of REDMO, the Bone Marrow Donors Spanish Register (now it includes over 286.000 active donors in Spain and located over 12.000 for Spanish patients requiring a transplant) and the establishment of the IJC, the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute whose first stone was set 5 years ago and which is fully active.
Furthermost, Josep Carreras has been the fundraising core by offering hundreds of charity concerts and recitals which contributed to support thousands of research and social projects for a total amount of several millions, not to mention he has been constantly visiting all age patients around the world: such fleur life threw to him developed into a mission which has made him unstoppable against leukaemia until it turns into a curable disease, until all patients can be saved.

His life could have been much easier, but he wanted to change things and even thirty years after when you hear the name of Josep Carreras you not only associate it to the Olympus of the opera world, but to the fight against leukaemia as well.

Thank you Josep for being the person you are.