New Humanity Movement

Health: Person, Environment



We publish the second part of the interview with Prof. Francesco Bevere.


Paolo Balduzzi- Rome

Don’t you think that beauty is important even during a healing process?
"Yes, I most definitely think so. Take the women, for example. Many are more terrified of the effects that the therapy might cause to their appearance than of the therapy itself. A case in point is the loss of hair due to chemotherapy. You just cannot reassure them by suggesting they put on a wig. There’s a whole process that needs to be followed. We have a make-up workshop, and with the help of professionals, these women are reassured because they are made to feel as ‘persons’ who, in spite of the difficulties they are encountering, they still want to live life as fully as possible".

I would imagine that not all patients would want to be all the time with others.
Each person has its own needs. We encourage people to come together, but one is free. For example, many opt to go the library and there read in silence. By the way, members of the staff, friends and voluntary associations have donated all the books found in the library.

What about those patients that are bedridden?
"Those patients have a television set each. Through this they can also follow what is taking place in the hall or in church. In fact we have a nice chapel, and a Gospel choir that sings on special occasions, like Christmas and Easter. These occasions show how important faith is for those who believe".

So what do you mean by humanization?
"For us, physicians, this means understanding our patients’ vulnerability, wounds and fears, and addressing these in a holistic manner. This also entails journeying with our patients during the whole period of their therapy. It is important to make the patients realize that, yes tomorrow there will be the operation, but then they could go to watch a film, or read a book, or spend time with their loved ones. This helps to give them a feeling of normality. Presently we are setting up a team whose task will be to be close to the patients all the time, so that the latter will not be left alone with their worries".

I’m sure some of the patients would know that their condition is terminal. Would they be interested in these things?
"What we offer reflects the needs of the persons and forms part of the whole complex therapy. I know as a fact that we human beings manage to express emotions in specific situations of joy, and more so, in those of suffering. This humanization process, especially through art and ‘beauty’, allows persons to express their inner feelings".

Are the persons close to the patients involved in this humanization process?
"They sure are. One of the things that make patients suffer is that stare full of pity that persons close to them offer. For the sick persons, the first difficult moment they face is the awareness that they lost trust in their own abilities. At this stage the persons close to them need to encourage them to regain their trust in themselves, and this helps a lot the therapy applied. Often, in very serious cases, it is also the relatives of the sick person that need to be supported, especially for what follows".

Was the setting up of this program easy?
"We had to face a lot of difficulties. Surely, to set up this kind of program one needs to have a strong will and a firm determination, besides a team that follows a shared leadership. I, like everybody else, do have moments when I feel discouraged; however, it is enough to go round the wards: it is the patients themselves that give me the thrust to go ahead when they tell me that they feel better and thank me for the attention we give them".

Therefore it is a matter of giving and of receiving.
"Yes, an incredible sense of reciprocity is generated. I would say that loving is easy, even natural. Today, the greatest problem is to be loved. Reciprocal love is the foundation of a very solid construction that is hard to demolish".

You said that many voluntary associations contribute towards this program. What effects could this program have on the city of Rome?
"I gladly note that there is a lot of interest in our program, and this is a good sign. I believe that what we do here could easily be done elsewhere. What is needed is the pooling of abilities, together with an untiring energy and a strong will. If we add love for the others, then the sky is the limit. One example: we recently gave certificates to prison inmates who have followed a course on humanization. These prisoners, who know first-hand what suffering and solitude is, are now equipped to help others who are suffering, in this case cancer patients. This also helps the prisoners to start a new life. I think that through this kind of osmosis we are contributing to the good of the whole city".

What does living brotherhood mean in your work?
"Living brotherhood means donating oneself to others, making them feel that they form part of a bond that surpasses that with their sickness. It is a reality that helps both medics and patients to become better persons".

Are you happy?
"I am happy to have been given this opportunity and to have made optimum use of it. I would be even happier when I’ll be certain that what I started is not linked to my person, but will go on as the result of a concerted effort by the scientific community for the common good".

(The End)

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