Children’s Thyroid Cancer Trial: Statement by Plaintiff #2 via 311supportnet

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Reiwa 4 (Wa) No. 1880 311 Children’s Thyroid Cancer Trial (Claim for Damages) Plaintiff 1~6 Defendant TEPCO Holdings Co., Ltd.

Summary of Statement of Opinion May 19, 2022 Plaintiff 2

That day was my junior high school graduation ceremony. I had a casual conversation with my friends, saying, “This is the last day,” and took a lot of photos with my digital camera with my juniors and
friends in my club. At that time, I think it was snowing lightly. When the earthquake hit, I was talking about graduation ceremonies on video calls with my friends. At the beginning, I was calm enough to say, “Oh, earthquake,” but a ballpoint pen fell on my head, and the shaking suddenly intensified. I heard a voice saying, “Oh my gosh!” and the video call was disconnected. “The house is collapsing.” It was a long, hellish time until the shaking subsided. I became aware of the nuclear power plant accident when it exploded. I heard a rumor, “the sky would turn pink due to radiation”, but that did not happen and I spent my time without a sense of crisis. March 16 was the day of announcement of high school entrance exams. The train had stopped due to the earthquake, so I heard the announcement of the results at the junior high school. I walked to school, listened to the announcement, and then I hanged around with my friends at the entrance for some time, walked back home. I had no idea that the radiation level was very high that day. Thyroid cancer was found in the Prefectural Health Survey. I still have a vivid memory of that time. On that day, I put on new clothes and sandals and my mother drove to the check-up site.

The tests were conducted by several doctors. Was the inspection time long, or was it short? Was it just my imagination that the doctor’s face seemed to have turned grim for a moment as he put an echo on my neck? The inspection was meticulous. The person who was called after me had already finished the examination. My mother said, “You’re the only one who took so much time,” and jokingly said, “Maybe you have cancer” and we left the venue. At the time, I didn’t think that I had to take a thorough examination. There were many people in the hospital where I underwent a thorough examination. At this time, I had a slightly unpleasant premonition. I had a blood test and an echo. After all, something was wrong. I was aware of it. Finally, they decided to do a biopsy. At this time, I was convinced. I had thyroid cancer. In my case, the cells of the targeted tissue for biopsy was hardened, that it was difficult to harvest the cell. In the midst of the fear of sticking a long needle in my neck and hoping that it finishes soon, they were finally able to harvest the cells after the third time. The day to know the test results came 10 days later. The result of the biopsy. Again, there were many people in the hospital. The result was thyroid cancer. However, the doctor did not say that it was thyroid cancer, but explained in a roundabout way that “surgery is necessary.” It was a great shock that I was told that I would only live to be 23 years old without surgery; this I can’t forget it even now.

The night before the surgery, I couldn’t sleep at all. I was so full of anxiety that I wanted to cry but the tears did not come out. But hoping that this would cure me, I underwent surgery. It was even tougher after the surgery than before. When I woke up, I felt sluggish and had a fever. The anesthesia didn’t agree, and I vomited in the middle of the night, I felt sick, and it was such a painful experience that I can still remember vividly now. Even now, from time to time, I have nightmares of surgery, hospitalization, and treatment. After the surgery, my voice withered and I had difficulty utter any sound for about three months. Due to the opposition of my family, who were concerned about my illness, I enrolled in a university in a nearby prefecture instead of the university in Tokyo, which was my first choice. But even that university I couldn’t go for long, because of the recurrence of the thyroid cancer. After entering the university, at the first regular checkup, relapse was found and I had to quit the university. “It was not cured,” and “on top of it, it’s metastasized to the lung,” I felt miserable. “What a bitter disappointment the fact that I was not cured,” I didn’t know where to put my feeling. “This time, I might not live very long,” I thought. I knew how hard the surgery was from the first experience, so I was worried that I would suffer the same pain again. The surgery lasted longer than planned, and the wound also became larger because there were many metastases to the lymph nodes. As with the first time, the anesthesia did not agree, so I vomited in the middle of the night and it was very painful to suck out the phlegm. After the second surgery, I lost the sensation near the collarbone, and even now I still feel uncomfortable when I touch it. I’ve been given some heartless comment about surgical scars, asking me if I made a suicide attempt. I was very shocked to be told something I hadn’t even thought of. The surgical scar will not disappear for a lifetime. From then on, I always chose clothes that would hide my wounds. After the surgery, I also had to undergo isotope treatment to treat the metastasized tissue of the lung. It is a treatment in which cancer cells are exposed internally by drinking capsules containing high concentrations of radioactive iodine.

The first and the second treatments were performed on an outpatient basis. This treatment causes radioactive iodine to enter the body, and the people around you may be exposed. After taking medication at the hospital, I lived in isolation at home, but I was worried that I would expose my family to radiation. I swallowed iodine twice, but the cancer didn’t go away. The third time, I was hospitalized in order to take a larger dose of iodine. The hospital room was a place where you had to go through a long white corridor and go through many doors. There were yellow and red radiation marks all over the place, and although this was a hospital, I felt like I was in a danger zone. You can only bring the specified number of items into the hospital room. That is to avoid more things from getting contaminated. Nurses do not enter the hospital room. The doctor only comes in for a checkup once a day. I felt very sorry when I thought that the doctor was also prepared for radiation exposure. I felt like I couldn’t sacrifice anyone because of me. Two or three doctors came to the hospital room with the medications. The medicine was in a container that looked like a cylindrical plastic case. Taking medicine is a race against time. The doctor takes out a whitish capsule of the drug with tweezers, puts it in an empty paper cup and hands it to me. The doctor immediately leaves the hospital room, closes the lead door, and gives a signal to drink through the speaker. I swallowed the medicine in one gulp with the water I had in my hand. After drinking, your mouth will be checked through the door, and a radiation counter will be held near your stomach, and when you confirm that it has entered your stomach, you will be instructed to lie down on the bed. Then, over the speaker, I heard a doctor instructing me to turn every 15 minutes.

Meals are shown through a television monitor, and after confirming that I can eat them all without leaving any, only the amount that can be eaten is served in order to avoid additional contaminated things. In the middle of the night, even though I had been feeling OK until then, I suddenly felt nauseous. It was extremely uncomfortable. It persisted for some time, and out of desperation I pressed the nurse call, but the nurse did not show up. I thought I shouldn’t vomit here, so I desperately headed toward the bathroom. Even if I told the nurse that I had vomited, only thing they did was to prescribe anti- nausea medication. The clock showed around 2 a.m. but I couldn’t sleep well. Starting the next day, I lost my appetite completely, and I was more likely to be put in the hospital room only with medication rather than meals. On the second day, I vomited once or twice. I had hardly ever vomited before, and because I did not know how to vomit with ease, my intraocular pressure rose, which severed the blood vessels in one eye, and it turned bright red. Through the door, a nurse checked the condition of my eyes and prescribed eye drops. Until I was able to get out of the hospital room, I felt sick and just waited for the time to pass. In the hospital room, there was a radioactivity measuring device which is a square shape like a cooler on the wall near the ceiling. There was a display window on the lower right of the surface of the device that showed numbers, and as I approached, the numbers went up high, and when I left, the numbers went down again. After three days of being like this, it’s finally time to get out of the hospital room. I threw everything I was wearing, including my pajamas, in a lead trash can, changed into the clothes I had kept in my locker, opened the lead door, and walked out with the nurse through a long hallway and a number of doors.

After the treatment, I suffered from the symptoms of difficulty in salivating and it became difficult to swallow food with little moisture, and my sense of taste changed. This hospitalization was too harsh a treatment for me. I don’t want to go through it again. Despite such a painful experience, the treatment did not go well. The fact that the treatment did not have a good effect was very painful, and I also felt that the time was wasted. In the past, I thought that I would do my best to accept the treatment with a hope that I will be cured, but now I think that “it would be nice if the disease does not progress even a little”. Since I became ill, I have prioritized treatment over my dreams for the future. The treatment made it impossible for me to go to university, and study the subjects which may lead to my future work, and also go to concerts that I was looking forward to, but I have given up everything. But I really didn’t want to quit college. I wanted to graduate. After graduating from university, I wanted to find a job and work in a field of my preference. I wanted to try “job hunting” as a new graduate. I wanted to spend my college life with my friends by having casual conversations with them, such as “How was your job hunting?” Now, it has become an unfulfilled dream, but I can’t give up. My friends, who graduated from junior and senior high schools together, have already graduated from university, got a job, and are living a stable life. I can’t help but look at my friends with envy. I don’t want to envy my friends, but I cannot suppress my jealous feelings. Even when I go to the hospital, it is difficult to pass by medical students of my age. They must be the same age as me, I, too, could have been a college student. Every time I go to the hospital, the thought in my mind is, “I hope the number for the cancer marker value has not gone up”. But lately, the numbers have been going up every time, so I feel helpless and wonder, “What went wrong?” or “Why did it go up ?”

My physical condition is getting worse and worse, I have stiff shoulders, easy numbness in my hands and feet, back pain, and I get tired easily. Perhaps due to the multiple prescriptions I take, palpitations and momentary sensation of respiratory arrest. In addition, the front area of the neck where the surgery was performed gets tense easily, and you have to endure it until the pain subsides. I feel sorry for how much I have caused worry and inconvenience to my family because of my illness. I don’t want my family to feel sad anymore because of me. I want to go back to my original body. No, no matter how much you wish, you can’t go back. Through this trial, we hope that the compensation for thyroid cancer patients will be realized.

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