The Death of Friend Sadako Sasaki Due to Radiation-Effect Leukemia – Part I

Title

The Death of Friend Sadako Sasaki Due to Radiation-Effect Leukemia – Part I

Files

Loading...

Media is loading
 

Identifier

KomakiR_01_20181106_Clip02

Publication Date

11-6-2018

Publisher

The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Transcript

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

Now, when do your own personal memories of the city and all of this process, when does that really begin?

R. Komaki, MD

You know actually, I remember. The first thing I remember --I was like two and a half years old-- I was hungry, I remember. I was sitting on the rail of the sliding door and I still have a memory of [sitting on top of] the sand. I was waiting for my mother coming back with fish or something to give me to eat. At that time, my father was still military. This is the time [when] we moved from Amagasaki to Wakayama. That’s the place our house was, and it was right at the ocean. My mother had to go to practice using a bamboo sword, just in case American soldiers arrived [from] the ocean, [onto] the beach, to attack the Japanese people who survived there. So all the women, they had to practice how to use this bamboo sword.

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

So it was self-defense training.

R. Komaki, MD

Right, right. All the women, they had to do that to protect the family and themselves. And after that practice every morning, they got some fish, and she brought the fish to us, and that’s the way we could eat. I was so hungry and I was [eagerly] waiting for my mother [to return with food]. That’s the first memory I have, yeah, I was two years old, or two and a half.

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

So what do you remember yourself, of going back to Hiroshima when you were four?

R. Komaki, MD

When I was four years old, I was always hungry. That’s all I remember. Anything I could have … My mother was always out trying to find some food, and whatever she had, you know like kimonos, she was selling to get some rice for us. Then, I went to school. I still remember …Because we did not have enough food in Hiroshima, my father’s older sister --she must be five years older than my father. She just loved me so much because [of my similar] appearance [with my father]. She had two sons but no daughter and she really adopted me to be her own daughter, although you know, her sons were much older and they were already grown

Up [and had left home]. I was sent to her place that’s outside of Hiroshima. They call it Kure. I stayed with her when I was four years old. For six months, one year, I stayed with her.

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

What was her name?

R. Komaki, MD

Mrs. Goto. [Kane is] her first name.

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

We can add it later.

R. Komaki, MD

I always called her Aunt Goto.

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

That’s fine, we can add it later when you have a look at the transcript, sure. So you lived with her for about a year.

R. Komaki, MD

Right.

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

And this was because it was just so difficult, your mom was struggling.

R. Komaki, MD

To eat, yeah. Actually, her husband, Mrs. Goto’s husband, was a dentist, and he died, and that’s why she was very lonesome. The boys grew up and left the town. Her older son became a newspaper writer, and I think he lived in Tokyo. So this Kure is the place on the top of the hill, and there was a military base in Kure, and that’s the area where my aunt, Mrs. Goto, she lived. Because of the base, my next door people, they had small children just about my age. Their father always brought some Spam or [gum] from the base, and that was incredibly tasty for me. I always ate some dried sweet potatoes, corn, sugarcane, whatever was around, but it was better than Hiroshima, where you know, my parents were. So I was raised by her for about one year.

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

So how long did it take before family life kind of got more back to normal?

R. Komaki, MD

It took a long time, I must have been about ten years old, so it took six years, five or six years.

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

Wow. Now what about schooling during that time, were you going to school?

R. Komaki, MD

Yes, I entered school when I was six years old, and then my father had to move, so I moved four times from Matsuyama, back to Hiroshima. I was nine years old and when I went to Noboricho Elementary School, I met Miss Sadako Sasaki. We were same [grade at] school but we were in different classes. This was a very big elementary school in the middle of Hiroshima, Noboricho Elementary School. The reason why I met with her, that was in the autumn meeting, the athletic meeting. Every October in Japan, we have the school athletic meetings and there is running, mainly running. Sadako was a very fast runner and we had to compete [by] class. There was a relay, and Sadako and myself, we were competing which one were going to win. We were always the last person who ran the relay competition. She was faster than me [the first] year. I always focused, you know: I’m going to compete with her. Then, the following year, she became very, very anemic and with shortness of breath and she could not run, [as fast as she used to] and she was found to have leukemia.

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

Now you met her, was it in 1951, would that have been the year that you met?

R. Komaki, MD

When I was nine years old, after we came back, the whole family came back from Matsuyama.

T.A. Rosolowski, PhD

So 1952.

R. Komaki, MD

Right. So she was living just outside of Hiroshima, the suburbs, we call it “Koi.” Her father was a barber. She was exposed to the atomic bomb when she was [two years old] [ ], but that was not the epicenter and so she survived. She hated to go to --we called it the ABCC, Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission—[for check ups]. They followed all those people who were exposed to the atomic bomb. They had to have their blood tests and if there was any abnormal blood samples. They had to have bone marrow.

The Death of Friend Sadako Sasaki Due to Radiation-Effect Leukemia – Part I

Share

COinS