"I was only sixteen", the new song written by the kids who face cancer

"I was only sixteen", the new song written by the kids who face cancer

Sing to share, to feel less alone, to tell your story. And do it with that force, light and overwhelming at the same time, of which only teenagers have the recipe. It is on these notes that "I was only sixteen" was born, the new song by the boys of the Youth Project of the National Cancer Institute of Milan (INT). After the great success "Palle di Natale", the boys are back to amaze with a project resulting from the collaboration with leading names on the Italian and international music scene, including Fasobassist of the band Elio and the Tese StoriesAnd Tony Hadley, former Spandau Ballet frontman and global pop music icon. The song is available on all streaming platforms and the proceeds from the digital downloads of the song will be donated to the Bianca Garavaglia Association (ABG), which since 1987 has supported the clinical activity and research of the department, and to Progetto Giovani.

"I was only sixteen"

"I was only 16 when they told me I had to go, and you're never really ready for a trip like that." These are the first words of the text of I was only sixteena song that tells the story “of all adolescents with cancer in the world - he explains Andrew Ferrari, creator and coordinator of the Youth Project - It is a poignant and poetic song, written in English to carry the dreams of these young people even further, on an international level". The lyrics of the song derive from the project "Taken from a true story", the podcast created by the boys of the Youth Project in 2021, with the coordination of Gianfelice Facchetti and also available on Spotify. A selection of sentences written by the students was adapted by themselves and set to music by Faso, Stefano Signoroni, Giacomo Ruggeri and Tommaso Ruggeri. Tony Hadley then lent his voice, which blends with that of the choir made up of young people. The song talks about the story of someone who, from one day to the next, has to turn his life upside down and face an unexpected and difficult path, made up of fears, desires, the desire to escape and, sometimes, lucky encounters.

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The Youth Project

An integral part of the Complex Structure of Pediatric Oncology of the INT, the Youth Project is dedicated to adolescent cancer patients and has two objectives: one clinical and one aimed at global care of the lives of children. It is essential, remember in fact Mark Votta, President of the National Cancer Institute of Milan, "maintain their individuality even during this process". Music, together with other creative and artistic forms (photography, fashion, video, writing), has an important role, offering children opportunities for sharing and lightness, but above all innovative tools to tell their stories and confront their fears and hopes . Other projects have already been developed in the past, including the songs “Palle di Natale” and “Sei tu l'estate”, the photographic project “The pursuit of happiness”, the comic strip “Loop, non si torna” and the videos of "Tumorial".

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The numbers of tumors in adolescents

Every year in Italy, 900 adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 fall ill with cancer. The chances of recovery are good, globally over 80%, but it is essential that patients are able to receive the right care, especially in adequate times and structures: "Unfortunately this does not always happen", explains Maura Massimino, Director of the Complex Structure Pediatric Oncology of the INT: "From a clinical point of view, in fact, adolescents are in a certain sense in a middle ground, with difficulty accessing excellent treatments and enrollment in clinical trials". Telling the stories of these kids, resumes Ferrari, is therefore essential to turn the spotlight on the more complex aspects that characterize the treatment path for this age group: "With the same disease - he continues - an adolescent is less likely to recover than a child. To improve this situation, dedicated projects are needed, such as our Youth Project, but also national and international projects that define shared and institutional approaches".

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Chemo and desires

“With our adolescent patients – concludes Ferrari – we wanted to tell their journey, from when they pack their suitcases, unpacking them to go dancing and filling them with hope, courage, determination and lots of pajamas, to when they find themselves sitting on a seat in front of the doctors and you can't think of anything else but the desire to escape. Without forgetting the nights in the company of the 'beep beep' of the chemotherapy pump. There is a lot of melancholy and there is a lot of hospital in the text of the boys, but then there is also the discovery of friends who give enormous help and know how to show the right path, such as their ward companions, the friends found here in the Project Young. In the end, here's the desire to ride a bike in the rain, sing until I no longer have a voice and dance until dawn”.

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