I was raised in Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945, killing 75,000 citizens immediately, followed by an additional 75,000 within six months due to the effects of the atomic bomb.
Subsequently, numerous deaths occurred due to the long-term effects of total body radiation. These deaths were from leukemia, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, colon cancer, stomach cancer and multiple myeloma. In addition, cardiac problems, thyroid dysfunction, osteoporosis and mental distress from the fear of malignancy were rampant.
I was determined not to forget the death of my childhood friend Sadako Sasaki, who was exposed to the atomic bomb radiation when she was two years old and who died of leukemia when she was 11 years old. I initiated fundraising in her memory, which helped lead to the creation of the Atomic Bomb Children Statue that stands in the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. The Atomic Bomb Children Statue, also known as the Children’s Peace Monument, is described as a monument for peace to commemorate Sadako Sasaki and the thousands of child victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
I decided to become a radiation oncologist to prevent unnecessary exposure of patients to radiation and to provide more targeted radiation treatment. My dream came true when the Proton Therapy Center was opened at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston in 2006. My late husband, Dr. James D. Cox, believed in my dream and the goal of my life and supported the effort.
I want ASTRO members to donate to the ROI to fund research and to support younger generations of ASTRO members who became radiation oncologists to cure cancer with their scientific knowledge and their caring clinical experience with patients! They are our future.
I believe that younger ASTRO members need to have respect for those who contributed to establish ASTRO. Jim Cox always respected his mentor Dr. Juan del Regato, who was a founder of ASTRO. I learned so much from Jim Cox, who was my mentor, as he was for many of our colleagues, residents and fellows. He was loved by all of us.
Contributions to the ROI will help us all since our focus is on finding the best possible care for cancer patients.
Ritsuko Komaki-Cox MD, FASTRO, FACR
Professor of Radiation Oncology
Baylor College of Medicine
Professor Emeritus at MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Komaki-Cox has made a generous contribution to the ROI in 2019 to fund grants to support residents' research. The grants will be called the James D. Cox Resident Research Awards in memory of Dr. Komaki-Cox’s late husband, who cared deeply about residents and their advancement.