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Radiation Has Always Been Part of My Story

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By Ritsuko Komaki, M.D.

ritsuko.jpgAs I sat in my sister's house in Nagoya, Japan, last Saturday, I was flooded with déjà vu.  

There was enough hardship with the earthquake and tsunami, but fears about the nuclear power plant touched my early life -- Hiroshima, Nagasaki.

I'm a professor of radiation oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center because radiation has always been part of my story. I've used it to heal, but I've also experienced its destructive powers. And I prayed never to see its devastation again.

In fact, I never dreamed I would be sitting with family watching in horror the first explosion at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Okumamachi, northeastern Japan.

On Thursday, March 10, I'd left Houston for Tokyo, where I was to give a talk to radiation oncologists, surgeons and neurosurgeons about a specific kind of radiation for early lung cancer. But ten minutes outside Narita Airport, we were informed that there had been an earthquake, and the airport was closed.

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