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March 25th, 2011
12:43 PM ET

Human Factor: Hiroshima survivor uses radiation to heal

In the Human Factor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces you to survivors who have overcome tremendous odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn’t know they possessed. Be inspired by their successes, as we have been.

Ritsuko Komaki was just a baby when Hiroshima was destroyed. She lived less than an hour away, and the effects of that nuclear blast in August 1945 colored her life.

Like many survivors of the atomic bomb, she watched her mother, grandmother, family members and friends suffer from radiation sickness.  The death of her childhood friend, who folded about 600 origami cranes while struggling with leukemia, inspired Komaki to pursue medicine.

Komaki realized that while radiation was lethal, it could also help and treat cancers.  She is now an oncologist at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and says, radiation has always been part of her life.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has her story in today's Human Factor.


soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. IAJT2005

    Is there a children's book about her friend making the cranes? I think I read her story when I was an elementary school.

    March 25, 2011 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeff

      I believe it was "Sadako and the thousand paper cranes".

      March 26, 2011 at 18:44 | Report abuse |
    • davidadams281

      Great book as I remember reading that back in university.

      Otherwise, I've read about her before and what a powerful story she has lived.

      Cheers,
      David
      http://www.allthingsdepression.com

      April 14, 2011 at 09:39 | Report abuse |
  2. Markson22

    IAJT, yes there is, I read that same book.

    March 25, 2011 at 18:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. JPS

    TREAT is operative word here. TREATERS evil KILLERS.
    Millions upon millions of researchers world wide and not one has found a cure for anything??
    Not even accidentally?? Please.
    COME ON!! What we need are CURERS. The docs and pharmies are NEVER EVER going to RELEASE the CURES. EVER.

    March 25, 2011 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • GetReal

      Life is a terminal condition – we all die. Stop stressing out over what you can't change and enjoy what you are now; a unique bit of consciousness in the vast universe.

      March 25, 2011 at 21:36 | Report abuse |
    • IgnoranceIsBS

      So, then why don't you figure out the CURE? Like it's from a lack of hard work and energy... waked the eff up.

      March 26, 2011 at 08:43 | Report abuse |
    • Tinytink

      @GetReal- Its easy to say until you see what it does to your family or loved one BEFORE they die.

      March 26, 2011 at 10:19 | Report abuse |
    • Frangible

      You've clearly not lost anyone to cancer. In the end, even treatment is worth whatever price, and seems nearly miraculous.

      There will never be any single cure for cancer. If you had lost anyone to cancer, you would have read more about it and realized this before insulting oncologists and such. Their jobs take a very heavy toll on them. They would cure everyone if they could.

      March 26, 2011 at 17:41 | Report abuse |
    • icydmd

      So do something instead of complaining. Get yourself some education and get yourself into the field... try to make the difference instead of just whining about others.

      March 27, 2011 at 01:31 | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      My Mom had melanoma decades ago and she survived it by changing her diet and being healthier. Don't eat salt or animal fat. Drink water and eat tons of organic fruits and veggies. Also, make your juicer your new best friend. Your body will naturally start to fight off the cancer. This will work for almost any illness. People don't realize that feeding our bodies the proper food can make a HUGE difference. Watch The Beautiful Truth on Snagfilms.com.

      March 27, 2011 at 07:28 | Report abuse |
    • hillbilleter

      What are you talking about? There isn't just one treatment because there's many, many kinds of cancer. My mother was a nurse, and she had three different types of rare cancers at once and there was no treatment for her. But there were experimental studies and she allowed them to experiment on her, saying, "I know this won't help me, but maybe it will be a step in finding something that will help other people later on." She was right that it didn't help her, and I have to believe that her suffering went towards helping others to live, in the future. There is no secret cure, because if there was, politicians and industrialists would not be dying of it.

      March 28, 2011 at 01:53 | Report abuse |
  4. Bman

    Oh now I feel all warm and cuddly about nuclear fission and it's byproducts... Can they bottle any of that water in Tokyo?

    March 25, 2011 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Enough is Enough

    HOW ABOUT A F–KING CURE?
    Zillions raised in the name of cancer research for decades and in 2011 THIS is the best we can do?
    The world needs to wake up en masse and demand much MUCH more. Cures are known (look into the medicinal effects of hemp oil for one) ...but are being organizationally and systematically suppressed by Cancer Research organizations (which is definitely a FOR PROFIT organization), Medical Associations and the Government. Oh I get it. A cured patient is no longer a cash cow, I mean .. a big pharma customer.

    March 25, 2011 at 22:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • IgnoranceIsBS

      Yes, demanding something makes it happen. Why don't you go to med school and chip in yourself? It's just a big conspiracy... definitely. Where are your FACTS about that? Let me guess you read somewhere online that cancer research is just a bunch of fat cats laughing it up in their high-rises watching people die. Really, if there's factual evidence that they're "systematically suppressing" getting a cure out there I'd love to see it.

      March 26, 2011 at 08:47 | Report abuse |
    • Thomas

      Thirty years ago, cancer was a death sentence. Now, it's highly manageable and often curable. How is that not progress? Tell you what – if you're diagnosed with cancer, you tell the doctors that you REFUSE "treatment" and you will wait for the "cure." That way, Big Pharma won't be able to make any money off of you. That'll show 'em.

      March 27, 2011 at 23:02 | Report abuse |
    • hillbilleter

      So, when are you going to come up with the cure and make it available to everyone? Put your money where your mouth is.

      March 28, 2011 at 01:55 | Report abuse |
  6. Lindalou

    All the drugs we take to make us healthy are poisoning us. Don't wait till you get sick to eat a healthy diet. Start now. Too much of any one thing is not good for us. Change what you can while you still can. Find out what you're lacking and try to boost your intake of foods containing those nutrients. We are all our own best advocate.

    March 26, 2011 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Frangible

      Yeah, if only the residents of Hiroshima had eaten a more vegan diet.

      March 26, 2011 at 17:36 | Report abuse |
    • icydmd

      "Poisonous drugs" are probably the only thing able to cure a nasty bacterial infection that your immune system cannot take care of. I'd hate to see you get one and refuse "unhealthy" medication.

      March 27, 2011 at 01:33 | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      That is not what they meant. Organic food can and does cure everything that goes wrong with our bodies.

      March 27, 2011 at 07:31 | Report abuse |
  7. charles s

    Cancer is such a terrible disease. I truly doubt if anyone had the cure that they would hide from the world. After all almost 50% of the people in the US will get it some day. While radiation treatment might help some patients, it also might cause further cancers. Some cancers are cured if they are caught early enough like skin cancer but most cancers are not detected until they cause some symptoms. Even removing a cancer runs the risk of leaking cancer cells into the blood stream. Once that happens, it is usually fatal.

    March 26, 2011 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Yossarian

    Notice how the conspiracy theorists have each only posted once? Hit and run crap posting. Much easier than defending their drivel.

    March 26, 2011 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.