Life has not been easy for Carlos Aguilera. Before turning 31, this Malaga-born man has had to undergo two complicated operations to remove two different tumours. The first, on his brain, made him famous in 2015 because he underwent the procedure while playing the saxophone. The operation was carried out in this way so the surgeons could locate the parts of the brain which are associated with musical language; this was because they didn’t want to cause any change to those areas while removing the tumour.
The second operation was in his bone marrow and this was removed just four months ago. But now this young musician is determined to put this difficult episode behind him and achieve his dream of making a living out of music.
Still suffering from the physical effects of the last operation, Aguilera set himself a challenge as part of his rehabilitation process: to participate in the campaign A Minute of Music against Cancer, organised by the Spanish Cancer Association (AECC).
The association has compiled hundreds of versions of the song Dando La Cara Por Ti, through social media. Ordinary people, famous singers and entire orchestras have participated in the initiative. Aguilera did his part with his saxophone, the same one he used during his first operation. "I saw the campaign announced and I took it as a kind of challenge. I had a reason to continue practising and restoring my finger agility," he says.
Following the second operation to remove a tumour from the bone marrow, Aguilera has been suffering a loss of feeling in half of his body, especially in the extremities. "As you can imagine, sensitivity is very important for a musician. At the beginning, I couldn't really move my fingers. However, little by little, with the help of rehab, gym and practising every day, I'm improving."
For his part in the video, Aguilera chose to play a four-part version of the song, playing them all individually before overlapping them on a single track. The result can be found on YouTube with the hashtag #1MinutoContraElCáncer. "It's a piece that is a lot easier than those I used to play but for me it served as a challenge and I think the result isn't too bad," he says, modestly.
Aguilera had just finished a scholarship with the Municipal Music Band and was starting to prepare for his exams to become a music teacher at the conservatory when he started to notice that he was not feeling so well. This was in December. "I wanted to pick up a glass or a pencil and I couldn't. I could barely feel my feet. It was like the brain wasn't sending the message on," he explains. A scan confirmed his worst fears: he had a tumour in his bone marrow.
The same surgeon
Once again, the life of this young musician was put in the hands of surgeons. They warned him that the operation could have many unwanted consequences, including an effect on his most valuable assets, his hands. "At the beginning, I felt a bit down. They told me it had nothing to do with the previous one and that it was bad luck that it had happened to me twice."
Now, he must focus on just that and set his sights back on accomplishing his dream of becoming a music teacher. "The only thing I can do is continue fighting every day for what I want to achieve," he says.