Sisters Irina and Elena live in an area of Belarus contaminated by the Chernobyl disaster. Both have had brain tumours removed and now have problems with their thyroid gland.
On April 26, 1986 I was five years old. I can't remember this
day verywell but it turned out to be a tragedy not only for our
family, butalso for thousands of people, from many countries. We
don't oftendiscuss that day in our family. But I remember what my
mum says aboutit. It was a really nice warm and sunny day.
I was outside with my elder brother
and my little 13-day-old sister, who was sleeping in a pram
under a tree.
Suddenly dark clouds appeared in the sky and a strong wind
started to blow. Our mum told us to come into the house
. While we were gathering our toys, she was trying to take the
pram inside. It took her a long time. The first
drops of rain fell on my little sister.
It may have been those few drops that changed our lives.
Atfirst we were not told anything about the accident. They
"didn't wantpeople to panic." But the authorities were afraid that
the secondreactor could blow up. Trains were made ready to
evacuate peoplefrom our city. Gomel is not very far from
It was only later we found out that the rain was radioactive.
Since then the word radiation has come into our life and
dominated itscourse. Chernobyl deprived me of many joys of my
childhood: the feelingof warm sun rays on my skin which I liked so
much turned to beradioactive rays and we had to stay in the shadow;
the water in theriver where we had splashed about was contaminated.
Worse of all, I hadto refuse all my favourite treats - mushrooms
and berries from theforest. As time passed I got used to these
restrictions and began torealise they were for our own sake.
Life took its usualcourse; I grew up and went to school. I
studied very well. In 1998 Igraduated from high school with honours
and dreamed of entering auniversity. And here again Chernobyl
interfered. Instead of aneducational establishment I found myself
in a medical one. On the day I was diagnosed with a brain tumour
, my parents were coming back from Minsk where my sister also
had just undergone a brain tumour operation.
I didn't know how to tell my mum that we had to go back to Minsk
again for another operation straight after my sisters.
This was how Chernobyl poisoned my youth.
It deprived me of my beautiful hair. During the operation they
cut my motor nerve so I had to learn to move again.
Mum still remembers that after the operation I was taken to
theintensive ward, I had an extensive brain bleeding and it was a
matterof life and death. But thanks to the doctors and my parents' care Isurvived
. And I still had the most precious things a person may have -my
life and my family. But I learned to appreciate that the hard
It was only due to my family's support that I could overcome the
ordealand stand on my feet again. Due to that ordeal when I was on
the vergebetween life and death I learned to appreciate and love my
life. Now Irealize that you should never give up, you should always
hope for thebetter and enjoy every moment, as these moments make up
our happiness.To understand all this at the age of 25 I had to go
through intensetrauma of brain cancer at 17. During the last eight
years I had to work hard not to be confined to the wheel chair and to learn how to walk again
, to realise my dream and study at university.
Twentyyears later, it angers me to be told that the nuclear industry isattempting to play down the effects
of the Chernobyl disaster. Now they even want to dump nuclear
waste in my country.
Forthose people who like to say nuclear power is the future I
can onlysuggest they come and spend some time in my home town with
people whoare living with radioactive contamination every day.
Perhaps then theywill have a different sense of the future?
Nuclear power ruined my life. Don't let it ruin yours.
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