In Condominy, the young patients of the Youth Project talk about their social isolation related to illness and treatment through an artistic journey.
Social isolation is a condition in which our patients find themselves experiencing regularly (isolation in the clean room, when a patient has a significant reduced immune defenses; but also the experience of isolation that they often find themselves experiencing, in comparison to their peers, for the mere fact of being sick). In a dramatic historical period linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, where many people around the world are forced into social isolation due to the lockdown, the stories and advices of the young patients of the Youth Project are of great relevance and usefulness.
From April 2018 to March 2019, 17 patients between 16 and 24 years of age participated in the project: of these, 12 lived this period in isolation due to therapies, while 5, on the other hand, were patients out of therapy who participated remembering the period of isolation experienced months before. With the help of a team of professionals, coordinated by Paola Gaggiotti and Cristina Pancini, the adolescents started by describing their ideal room – a bit real and a bit a fantasy place capable of representing their personality and their dreams – producing texts, images, drawings and music.
The description of each room then became a model, thanks to the intervention of two architects and a model maker. Just as the different rooms were ideally united in an apartment building, so the photographs of the models and the texts were grouped into a book, published by Boîte Editions.
“I thought of a room that takes a different shape every time you enter, as if the room were not something created by us, but it were ourselves” (Nicodemus)
“I wish my room were in the middle of the condo, so as to feel part of the group” (Andrea)
“My room is located on the 12th floor of the Condominy and looks out over a different place every time, it depends on my mood and what I need at that moment” (Martina)
In addition to the description of the different rooms, the book contains a chapter entitled “Chats on the stairs”, which explicitly refers to advice for those living in isolation. Matteo Davide reveals: “It is important to learn to be alone with yourself. You will discover things about yourself that you didn’t know yet, and if you can be comfortable with yourself, you will enjoy life better. Isolation taught me this”.
Condominy was made possible thanks to the support of the Associazione Bianca Garavaglia ONLUS and the Fondazione Alta Mane Italia (AMI).
Ferrari A, Pagani Bagliacca E, Veneroni L, Silva M, Gasparini P, Signoroni S, Luksch R, Terenziani M, Casanova M, Spreafico F, Meazza C, Podda M, Biassoni V, Schiavello E, Chiaravalli S, Clerici CA, Massimino M. Experiencing social isolation (even in the era of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown): teachings through arts from adolescents with cancer. J Adolesc Young Adult Oncol. 2020 Aug 7. doi: 10.1089/jayao.2020.0075.