19 May 2024

Jazz vocalist offers gift of understanding to those with serious illness

Angela Lumicisi is a professional singer who has performed at several events at St George’s East Ivanhoe. Image: Supplied.

Kirralee Nicolle

27 September 2022

A renowned vocalist who recently performed in a jazz vespers service at a Melbourne parish has faced a sudden and unexpected journey with serious illness.

Angela Lumicisi performed at Jazz Vespers at St George’s East Ivanhoe on 28 August along with a band of Melbourne jazz musicians.

The former Wicked the Musical performer and vocal coach first performed at a funeral at St George’s East Ivanhoe in 2020. Realising she had a wonderful gift for music, vicar Father John Sanderson invited her back to perform at his father-in-law’s funeral after his death on Christmas Day 2020. She then also performed at a Choral Eucharist at St George’s in March 2021. Through their shared love of music, she and Mr Sanderson became friends. Soon after, at 43 years of age, Ms Lumicisi received some shocking health news.

She said she had no symptoms until one day when she had some eye trouble.

“One morning I woke up and I couldn’t see very well out of my left eye,” Ms Lumicisi said. “It was like a grey veil.”

She said her GP urged her to go to hospital immediately. Ms Lumicisi said she was confused, as she thought she probably just needed eye drops. After numerous tests, the doctors found something more sinister.

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“They understood that there was a lesion behind my left eye,” she said.

“Four days after that my body completely collapsed. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t eat, I was just being sick. Basically there was nothing of me.”

Ms Lumicisi said that after about 10 days in hospital, she was given a diagnosis: stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She said that as well as the tumour behind her eye, lesions were found in her brain, shoulder blades, cheeks, down her back and in her legs.

Ms Lumicisi said that despite the devastating news, she approached the diagnosis with pragmatism.

“I just went ok, what have we got to do? Let’s do it,” she said.

Ms Lumicisi said that throughout the gruelling early stages of her treatment, she didn’t contact Mr Sanderson or perform in any events, as she was forced to relearn how to stand, walk and eventually, how to sing.

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“In that time, I didn’t really communicate with anyone,” she said.

“I’ve had to really get used to a brand-new body [and] a brand-new mind.

“You start viewing yourself physically and mentally in a different way.”

Ms Lumicisi said that when she was invited to perform at Jazz Vespers, she was nervous as she had only recently begun to perform again after a lot of breathwork and rehabilitation.

“I’ve never really been to a church that invited me in so wonderfully,” she said.

“Because I know how fabulous the congregation is, I knew I could do it. That congregation is so supportive. They really appreciate people who have a passion for something.”

As part of the performance at Jazz Vespers, she invited the congregation to join in with singing This Little Light of Mine. She said this made it even more enjoyable as a performer.

“Sharing this type of music really lifts a performance,” she said.

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Mr Sanderson said that Ms Lumicisi’s music was a blessing, particularly for those also suffering serious illness, of whom there were several in the parish.

“She’s clearly got a gift and vocation for the people of Melbourne,” he said.

Mr Sanderson said that Ms Lumicisi’s performance was not just a one-off blessing to the congregation but was continuing to bless others. He said during a pastoral care visit he had shown a clip from the service to a parishioner and former chorister who was also facing serious illness.

“I sat on his bed and I showed him the video of Angela singing and he just joined in and sang spontaneously,” Mr Sanderson said. “It was very moving.”

Angela Lumicisi is part of Thursday Girls, a support group for those facing a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. To find out more about Thursday Girls, see here.

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