Georgia is 18 years old. She is a patient who arrived at the National Cancer Institute in Milan. Being treated for renal sarcoma. And with a handful of words, he perfectly captured the essence of what stirs the restless soul of a teenager with cancer: «You find yourself packing your suitcase by emptying it of clothes to go dancing and filling it with hope, courage, determination and lots of pajamas.’ Giorgia, Riccardo, Marco, Camilla, Martina, Lorenzo… A long, unfortunately very long list of voices. However, they have found a solid and also very stimulating starting point. Is called Youth project
, a throbbing reality created in 2011 within the Oncological Pediatrics of the Milanese Institute under the direction of Dr. Maura Massimino. Creator, promoter and coordinator is Dr. Andrea Ferrari, with the support of the Bianca Garavaglia Association (born in the name of Bianca, a five-year-old girl who disappeared due to a rare form of neoplasia).
The song “I Was Only Sixteen” will stream from May 25
Why, did we say “very stimulating”? Simple: here, in addition to the excellence of specialist treatments and the always invaluable psychological support, young patients can count on a comfort zone in which it becomes possible to give free rein to personal creativity. The more or less hidden artistic side. A fiery activity that has recently brought these very special children to writing the lyrics of a songpoignant and poetic, I was only sixteen (“I was only 16”), available on all streaming platforms from May 25. To translate and interpret it in notes, two authentic kingpins took to the field: Faso, bass player of the group Elio e le Storie Tese (with the contribution of the musicians Stefano Signoroni, Giacomo and Tommaso Ruggeri), and even Tony Hadley, former Spandau Ballet frontman and global pop music icon.
The youth project
The Youth Project has radically renewed the concept of therapy by creating multifunctional rooms in the ward, right next to the hospital rooms. a unique habitat, a kind of exclusive club, to meet travel companions, to confide in each other, to hug each other, to transmit to each other the energy necessary not to give up, to laugh. And yes, even shed a few tears. But above all create. Forging original paths with the imagination to tell each other. The list of creations made by the teenagers of Progetto Giovani over time is becoming significant: the video-song Palle di Natale, an astonishing viral hit (on YouTube it has already been viewed more than 17 million times), the comic strip Loop – Non si torna (published by Rizzoli Lizard), the photo exhibition Ri-Scatti (organized at the Pac, the pavilion for contemporary art, in Milan), the photo calendar YOUth 2021, developed between May and September 2020, i.e. in the middle of the pandemic, the Tumorials (video tutorials designed to help a young person cope with a cancer diagnosis), the podcast Based on a True Story (coordinated by actor and theater director Gianfelice Facchetti). Precisely from this last container come the thoughts (like Giorgia’s) that made it possible to construct the text of the new musical work, sung in English, to make this hymn fly far, in international circuits. In brief, the Youth Project is high quality care and at the same time a great exercise place for the soul. Because the children who go through it, between one chemotherapy and another, produce delicious and tasty artistic fruits.
Cancer in adolescents
Cancer affects 800 Italian boys between the ages of 15 and 19 each year. But also between 1,000 and 2,000 people in the 20-29 age group. A total of 20,000 people in Europe. Blood cancers are the most common, with leukemias accounting for about a third of all cancers. Then, among the so-called solid tumors (not involving, ie, blood cells), those of the brain predominate, followed by sarcomas of the soft parts and bones. All of these neoplastic forms are typical of childhood, but can also affect adolescents and young adults. Here is the crucial dilemma. In the end, the hot point of the matter is this: today there are codified treatment routes for tumors in children and for adults, yes, but … for these children? «Sick adolescents continue to represent a “middle ground” between pediatric and adult oncology, and therefore run the risk of having difficulty or late arrival at the appropriate reference centers. In short, not to get the best and specific treatments,” explains Dr. Maura Massimino. Just to clarify: a teenager recovers less quickly than a child with the same illness.
Imagination and creativity become «cure»
«Progetto Giovani was born with this double vision: on the one hand to guarantee children access to the right clinical protocols, to therapeutic strategies designed especially for them, and on the other hand to provide a place where people in treatment can continue to express one’s passions, friendship, sports, music,” Dr. Andrea Ferrari intervenes. Integrating high-quality therapy and a sunny quality of life: this is the wonderful recipe. A formula that was also awarded in 2018 with the Ambrogino d’Oro, awarded by the Municipality of Milan, because the Youth Project has shown that it represents an innovative model of global care. “Our boys’ stories have even become the subject of real medical science reports, published in prestigious international journals such as the Journal of Clinical Oncology and Lancet Oncology,” says Ferrari. “The power of the imagination becomes a treatment path,” adds the oncologist, “it brings beauty to the hospital, it gives young people unprecedented tools to somehow reinvent the coordinates of their daily lives and perfidious and throbbing thought: “Why only me?”. And above all, with projects lasting several months, it offers an idea of the future, of continuity with life, capable of instilling the right strength to restart after the diagnosis of cancer and the demanding therapeutic cycles». How do you say: the realization of being part of an artistic and life project is a powerful medicine. In addition, as Dr. Ferrari explains, encouraging initiatives that nurture creativity also means for the doctors of the Youth Project that they have the opportunity to delve into the boy’s inner world. That is, from a psycho-oncological point of view, the close interactions established between these young people and the white coats enable caregivers to attune to the deep perspective of the patients and turn the therapeutic journey into an authentically shared experience. to make . With passion, professionalism, a lot of effort and a lot of inspiration, the young people and staff of the Progetto Giovani have been able to transform a hospital structure into a platform where art can be promoted. And from where it even becomes possible to launch a musical hit.
I am Barbara Redford, a professional journalist and writer with extensive experience in news reporting. I have been writing for The News Dept since 2019, covering topics related to health and wellness. My passion is to keep people informed about the latest developments in healthcare and the medical industry. With my articles, I strive to create awareness on various diseases while also highlighting their remedies or treatments.
Aside from writing for The News Dept, I also conduct interviews with renowned doctors and medical practitioners who provide valuable insight into different illnesses or conditions. My articles are often highlighted by several leading health websites as well as magazines due to their quality of information and accuracy of facts.