This morning I met Mrs. Shima. She had invited several other mothers over to her home to share with me their situations and the thyroid test results for their children. Mrs. Shima showed me the thyroid ultrasound for her daughter Shuri, 11. The government-sponsored test revealed her daughter had NO thyroid cysts, but she went to a private hospital to seek a second opinion. She was told her daughter in fact DOES have thyroid cysts. In both tests, it was discovered that her son Kaito, 13, also has thyroid cysts.
The mothers showed me the results of the "glass badge" radiation monitors that their children wear around their necks. The results are supposed to show the TOTAL monthly radiation exposure for each child. However, the government has SUBTRACTED from the total exposure rate the natural environment radiation levels. In addition, Mrs. Kanno told me that when her daughter Mifuyu had an X-ray for an unrelated problem, she was told to REMOVE the "glass badge" radiation monitor. Mrs. Kanno argued that the monitor should remain on her daughter so it could accurately reflect her TOTAL radiation exposure, but the hospital staff removed the monitor from around Mifuyu's neck.
|Koutarou Sugano, 9, wears a mask and a "glass badge" radiation monitor last month.|
After school ended, their children joined us. It was a pleasure to meet and talk with the kids. Like children in every country around the world, they have hopes and dreams and ambitions.
"I want to be a train conductor!"
"I want to own a flower shop."
"I just want to be able to play outside again."
Mrs. Oyama worries for her son Yoshihiki, 11. Her daughter Nozomi, 17, has been found to have thyroid cysts.
Mrs. Kanno's two children, daughter Yuika, 10, and son Naoki, 11, were both found to have no thyroid cysts in the government-sponsored test. When she went to the private hospital Mrs. Shima recommended for a second opinion, she was told that the hospital had received a directive from the national government to stop providing tests for children it had deemed had no thyroid cysts. Mrs. Kanno was refused a second thyroid test for her children.
Mrs. Shima's daughter Shuri, 11, has thyroid cysts. Her son, Kaito, 13, was also found to have thyroid cysts.
Mrs. Tsuda's son Naoki, 11, has thyroid cysts. Her daughter Yuika, 10, has so many thyroid cysts the doctor could not count them all (!).
We didn't only talk about thyroid cysts. We laughed and joked around, had coffee and cake, told stories and the kids asked me lots of questions about America. It was such a pleasure to meet these wonderful people! And although it may sound strange under the circumstances, we actually had fun... which makes this all the more heart-breaking.