It is with the courage and determination that have lived in him all his life that Bernard Tapie faced cancer.
He reunited his children in rue des Saints-Pères. “I have some shit. – You’ve had it for a few years! his son Stéphane answers. – It’s cancer… – Ah! Yes. This is real shit! »We are in June 2017.
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For months, Bernard Tapie has been shaken by spasms when he eats. He began by not worrying about it but ended up calling his friend Jean Duby, ex-doctor of Talbot Sport, Ferrari and OM, his family doctor for five decades. They met at winter sports, where the doctor was treating his son Stéphane. Tapie describes his swallowing difficulties. “It’s serious, quickly do an endoscopy. The diagnosis is made: cancer of the cardia, the opening that connects the esophagus to the stomach and prevents the rise of gastric fluid. An appointment is made in Saint-Louis with Professor Émile Sarfati, who hides nothing from his patient: “This intervention is a bit like going under the bus. Tapie appreciates his frankness.
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“He knew it was extremely serious,” emphasizes Jean Duby. He immediately inquired, read masses of scientific documents. Three days before the operation, I was with him in rue des Saints-Pères. In front of me, he calls Sarfati: “Are you in good shape?” asks the surgeon – “Listen, I drink a lot in the evening, but generally in the morning I’m fine!” Tapie jokes. Bursts of laughter, immortalized by a photo taken by Dominique, his wife. The herbal medicine enthusiast will spend six hours on the pool table. “But he had convinced Émile Sarfati to leave him a little bit of a stomach,” continues Jean Duby. He knew that otherwise the food would pass directly from the mouth to the small intestine, the consequences would be very painful. “
The day after the operation, the first performance: his surgeon is surprised to find him completely awake. “It’s only if he didn’t want to go out!” he recounts. He stayed five days in sheave, while others stayed for three months. »Chimios, fatigue, nausea. Bernard Tapie, who has lost 15 kilos and all his hair, must breathe pure oxygen.
“He would have made a very good scientist,” estimates Spano. Our exchanges were at a high level. He opposed us with strong arguments, without taking himself for an expert. He trusted us. “
“This cancer is a 50% chance of survival at five years,” he told his relatives in 2017. But I don’t care about the statistics. For me it will be 100%. I will win the match! He faces the disease as he would face, in business, a competitor with whom he would have liked to deal. At the end of 2017, he decided to make his status public. Relatives advise him not to: “People will only see that in you. Remember Mitterrand who had the feeling, when you squeezed his hand, that he was taking his pulse! ” Exactly. “Tapie needed to be in the ring, to have his ration of adrenaline, his media shoot,” explains his friend Jacques Séguéla. Stéphane Tapie will confide to Cyril Hanouna: “Verbalizing the help, him, but also all those who are ashamed to speak about their cancer. He desecrates the term. »With his televised interventions without false modesty, Tapie once again seduces the French. His voice is broken, but he hasn’t lost any of his chat, and his strength bursts through the screen. In the stands of OM, we sing his name. He was not only moved to tears, his new popularity boosted him.
After the operation, Tapie is followed by Professor Jean-Philippe Spano. The head of the medical oncology department at Pitié-Salpêtrière is one of the precursors of targeted therapy. Last May, he confided to us: “Knowledge of the cancer cell allows us to demonstrate that there are several hot spots to fight, on the cell as in its environment. Thus, the tumor makes its own vessels which allow it to feed itself: we can destroy them. Like any patient in his case, Tapie alternates between conventional treatments and therapeutic trials. “He would have made a very good scientist,” estimates Spano. Our exchanges were at a high level. He was very active, made inquiries, made cross-checks. He opposed us with strong arguments, without taking himself for an expert. He trusted us. “Tapie has two issues to consider: his illness and, always, Credit Lyonnais, because it is in April 2019 that the” arbitration trial “opens. Eleven years earlier, 403 million euros had been awarded to him by an arbitral tribunal, but he has since been suspected of an agreement with his judges. “I stopped all my treatments so as not to be caught in the hearings,” he tells us. In his briefcase, there are more drugs than documents. “I was in pain all the time for a month. In the evening, I was completely empty. “His wife, Dominique:” I don’t know how he managed to hold on. Every weekend, he rides a hundred kilometers by bike, the round trip distance to his house in Combs-la-Ville. “I strengthen my healthy cells with energy. It must be stronger than that of tumors. And I avoid products that anesthetize as much as possible, ”he tells us. On July 9, he wins his trial. Relaxed. But, seven days later, the prosecution appealed.
He’s a heavyweight boxer. Anything that doesn’t kill him makes him stronger.
December 2019. The protocol he follows no longer has any effect. Spano advises him to consult Professor Éric Van Cutsem, a teacher at the University Hospital of Louvain, in Belgium. This pioneer of gastrointestinal oncology is experimenting with a new molecule, not yet approved by the Medicines Agency. Eight months of back-and-forths begin for Bernard Tapie, during which Eric Van Cutsem discovers a complex, sensitive, warm being. “With him, we had to talk! He wanted to understand the reason for the chosen treatment. His questions, always logical, intelligent, made us think. He encouraged us to go beyond the limits of knowledge and science. The first results are encouraging: the tumors have shrunk by 75%! But the summer of 2020 will be appalling. Belgian processing no longer works. Bernard Tapie must cancel his filming project with Claude Lelouch. Faced with Laurent Delahousse, in December 2020, he is very precise: “20% of new tumors, and the old ones have doubled,” he says. For his 77th birthday, his daughter Sophie tweeted: “We will end up, all together, by smashing his face for good and knocking him out, that bastard with cancer. “His son, Stéphane, confides in Hanouna’s:” As a family, we talk about it when things are going. When things aren’t going… we don’t want to talk about it. It is not the main topic of conversations. “As for the person concerned, he spends his life raising the morale of the patients encountered in the hospital:” Clench your teeth! Hold fast ! Beat you ! The labs are constantly making discoveries. The finish line is never crossed. “
Since 2020, Tapie has also been consulting Professor Fabrice Barlesi. This specialist in lung cancer, precision medicine and cancer immunology was then medical director of clinical research at the Gustave-Roussy hospital in Villejuif, where he will soon become general manager. “We ‘molecularly dismember” diseases, explained the doctor in May 2021. We analyze a lot of samples to find out their drivers. Then we develop treatments that specifically block them. It is tailor-made, the right dose for the right patient, orally or intravenously, combined or not with chemotherapy. »Lurking? Like his colleagues, Barlesi is surprised: “He knows everything that exists in the world at the laboratory stage! »Cutsem, Spano, Barlesi and Tapie discuss each step, together make the choice of weapons. “He called us often, spoke of the tolerance of a drug, shared his progress and his concerns,” the three doctors explain to us. “We tried all the classic things,” Tapie told us last June. There, we no longer have a choice. So we search, we try. Without Spano, I would have been dead a year and a half. He is an absolute genius, like Cutsem and Baresi, fabulous beings! He fights like a beast, his body overwhelmed with perverse tumors which, each time more numerous, only free one place to invade another. Last spring, Jacques Séguéla was still full of optimism: “He is a heavyweight boxer. Anything that doesn’t kill him makes him stronger. It is self-recharging, with an insane force of recovery, in perpetual rebirth. He’s going to scare her, her cancer! “
We’re looking, he explains to Jean Duby. But if the treatments are ineffective, or too painful, I will stop. I know it will be a condemnation
Since September 2020, to support the effects of the treatments, Tapie goes two or three times a week to an acupuncturist, Doctor Nadia Volf, author of “The compass of emotions” (ed. XO). She shows him the twenty points to know to stimulate the immune system. A good student, he manages them on his own. At the worst times, such as after the operation for an 11-centimeter hernia which follows the tearing of the peritoneum, this thin membrane which keeps the organs within the abdominal cavity, he combines lucidity and optimism: “I am in a complicated phase, but we must not despair, ”he professes. Spano: “He gave himself goals, sources for him of crazy energy. Like his mentor François Mitterrand, who wanted to hold out until the last day of his second term, Tapie wants to attend his trial, win it, finally settle his affairs and work with Lelouch. But the road bike is over; when he does not feel “too bad”, he must be satisfied with his exercise bike and a few push-ups.
In May 2021, he begins to change his speech. He knows the outcome can be near and swift. “We’re looking,” he explains to Jean Duby. But if the treatments are ineffective, or too painful, I will stop. I know it will be a conviction. He easily talks about death. Séguéla: “He was serene, peaceful, without any resentment. »Bernard Tapie talks about himself to God and, since he read« The disease, the art and the symbol »of the psychoanalyst Georg Groddeck (1866-1934), he practices self-analysis. Faced with the inevitable, he chooses depth. “I have metastases everywhere, even in my head. I can only stand the unacceptable if it helps, ”he said. Now he knows he is doomed. Jean Duby now lives in the Azores. In February, he was in Paris. He visited his friend in rue des Saints-Pères: “We talked a lot. Then Bernard accompanied me back to the courtyard of the mansion. I knew I would never see him again, and he knew it too. He had tears in his eyes. I turned my head to hide from her that I was crying. “￼
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