Women's International Network

Mary Loscerbo – Member

Unlike many, I was actually out just about everyday except for weekends during the Lockdown.

My Experience:

Unlike many, I was actually out just about everyday except for weekends during the Lockdown. On February 26th I started radiotherapy. Although I was happy to start this phase of my breast cancer treatment I was also worried because at that point, things were taking a nose dive in Northern Italy and it was only a few days before that someone had been recovered with suspect Covid 19 at Ponte a Niccheri….exactly where I was to begin my radiotherapy treatments. Luckily, the radiotherapy department is situated at the back of the hospital. It has it’s own little parking lot and separate entrance so at least I didn’t have to wander through the hospital to get to where I needed to go and that was a great relief. I was also very relieved that they didn’t postpone or cancel my scheduled 33 sessions.

In some ways I think the radiotherapy was my “therapy” in getting through all of this. I know that sounds crazy…but I actually looked forward to going to radiotherapy!!! It got me out of the house without the risk of being fined, and some time to myself in the car. I was able to talk to other people and hear first hand from Dr’s. and Nurses the situation in emergency and what their colleagues were dealing with. I was able to see first hand empty highways and a deserted Florence. It was all very surreal.

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It was interesting to see how slowly the measures kept on changing in the hospital. The first week and a half no one wore masks, which quite frankly at the time, I thought was strange. I got to become “buddies” with one of the radiologists and asked him about that and he actually told me that the hospital WAS OUT OF MASKS and if I found any at all to start wearing them. This was when on the news all we heard was that we didn’t need masks! As a side note ….about three weeks before while I was at Esselunga I had bought a box of 50 masks thinking that maybe it would be a good idea to have just in case I needed it during radiotherapy…and thank goodness I did, because soon afterwards they were nowhere to be found! Anyways, as the weeks passed new measures were put into place. The third week the staff had on masks (they arrived!!) and it was required that all patients wear masks. The following week the sliding doors didn’t open automatically anymore. You had to ring a doorbell that had been installed and once you were inside use the sanitiser gel that was made available. After that, we had to ring the bell, use the gel and then a nurse would greet us at the door and take our temperature and alternating seats were blocked off in the waiting room and the dressing room had gloves that we were to wear during radiotherapy.
At home I was busy like all of you cooking, cleaning with the help of my husband. Figuring out the “DAP” for my two children (1 media and 1 superiore) and making sure they were on top of their homework. I also partook in the various musical flash mobs going on around Italy. For those of you who don’t know, I am a singer. I would take out my speaker and mic, face it out of the window and call out to all of our neighbours and start playing Italian songs for about 20 min around 5:00pm and the last song I would perform something for them. Everyone seemed very appreciative. They would applaud with great enthusiasm, sing a long, some neighbours who had my number would send me requests. It was becoming a real live “spettacolo”. There was one elderly man in particular that I remember who yelled out one time, “Che Dio ti benedica! Grazie per quello che stai facendo per noi. Io sono da solo in casa ed uscire con tutti voi sul balcone ogni giorno a sentire la musica mi da la forza di continuare!” Everyone yelled back to him “Dai! Forza e coraggio!!!” I felt like crying and began to realise how many people really were alone during this lockdown. I couldn’t help but feel that I was so fortunate to be with my family. Even though I had to go through radiotherapy, I still felt so grateful that this lockdown didn’t happen while I was doing chemotherapy (exactly a year before!)….or even worse….finding out I had breast cancer and not being able to begin chemotherapy, knowing that time is of the essence!!

Silver Lining

Last year was a very challenging year but during this lockdown I began to feel so grateful for everything I had and had done in my life. I suppose this stirred up my creativity and so I, along with 4 other musicians wrote a song called “Domani”. We did it all half way through my radiotherapy and the rest of the lockdown. It involved 40 professional singers and musicians all recording with what they had available at home…some had a home studio but most just used their cell phones. It was quite the undertaking considering the logistical and technical problems involved….and of coarse working with “artisti” on normal occasions isn’t the easiest task….try doing it in lockdown! I assure it is not for the faint of heart! I could write a book on the various “personaggi” we were in contact with….but will maybe save that for my memoirs one day (lol!) Anyway, in the end we did it! All proceeds go towards the Protezione Civile. If you are interested in hearing it and donating to Protezione Civile I invite you to see our video on YouTube Video above (I’m the one in the blue top) As of today we have close to 12000 views which isn’t bad in less than a month. Close to the end of Lockdown I also co-wrote a song called “All together” (video below) which I also recorded….but quite frankly… being the perfectionist that I am, I didn’t think that my voice was up to snuff. The radiotherapy caught up with me and I was physically very tired at this point and I could hear it in my voice. Luckily, the producer knew a very talented American singer who lives in Amsterdam named Lydia Lyon and she did a fantastic job. It is a song of hope and positivity…something we all need a huge dose of right now.

Phase 2 for me has been much harder than the Lockdown. “How is that possible?” you ask. Well, the lockdown for me wasn’t any different than what I have been living since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The feeling of isolation, at times despair, uncertainty, being afraid for my health, my families future….I felt like I went through all of this last year so when COVID 19 hit…strangely enough I actually felt really prepared.

Phase two for me is like waking up from a foggy dream. As I had mentioned, I am a singer and my band, The Bit Band www.bitband.it works exclusively for foreigners. Conventions, private parties and especially Destination Weddings….this year we had close to 40 destination weddings booked! So far 7 cancelled, 5 “hangers on” between September and October and the rest all postponed for next year…which basically means no income this year…and there really is nothing I can do about it. The government doesn’t want social gatherings and therefore for now, no music festivals, concerts, gigs ect… are off the table.

Yes, I am still recording from home, working on projects…. but I miss the performing aspect so much!!! It’s what gives me my adrenaline…it was what got me through my chemotherapy…and yes, I performed during it all…and it was exactly what I needed to keep me sane last year. I think this will be the hardest part for me…and so I just need to be patient. (not one of my personality traits) I do have to admit that I am still very tired from the radiotherapy and these hormone blockers have been causing me a lot of physical pain which doesn’t help.

I am trying to think of this as maybe a blessing in disguise. There is no way I would have been able to do the 18 weddings booked in May and June feeling how I feel right now. So I suppose I need to take advantage of this time to rest up as much as I can so that my body heals.
I am also worried for my husband’s and my businesses. We own La Sosta de’ Golosi, http://www.lasostadegolosi.com and last year opened Messer Gelateria (beside La Sosta) and Gunè http://www.gunesanfrediano.it

Needless to say, we have been hit very very hard. We are still paying off our debts for these two new locations…the last thing we needed was a lockdown and no income whatsoever. We opened up last week and it has been a very painful opening. The center is still deserted. We can see people are still really afraid of going out and for restaurants like ours in the center we get the double whammy. No tourists AND with a huge reduction of staff in the stores and most offices still closed and their staff smart- working…there isn’t even our local clientele which was our bread and butter during the off season months. We have applied for the 25000,00 euro loan that the government has allowed for businesses… as much as we really didn’t want to do it (the last thing we needed is another loan!)…but there is just no way around this. All we can do at this point is hope and pray that maybe with the regions opening up there will be more people out and about and once the country opens we will have some tourists to salvage the rest of the summer. This won’t be an easy year but I figure if I was able to beat cancer, I can get through anything!