WA doctor near Chernobyl lost husband to cancer

VANCOUVER -- A local doctor lived in Belarus when the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the neighboring region of the Ukraine to the south exploded.

Elena Panutich said government officials failed to notify any of its citizens.

"We were very sad and angry," said Panutich. "We had families and children walking outside."

Panutich said she and her husband, Alexander, did not learn about Chernobyl until the hospital they worked at became swamped with patients.

"We started getting all the people from Chernobyl all of a sudden," said Panutich.

Six years after the nuclear incident, Elena and her family moved the United States. They lived in California and Minnesota before moving to Oregon, where Alexander was diagnosed with stage four multiple myloma.

"It's strange at this young age," said Panutich. "Such a severe form of cancer."

Panutich said there is no history of cancer in her family or her husband's family. She is convinced the radiation from Chernobyl caused her husband's cancer and ultimately his death. Alexander died in 2008, not long after Elena graduated from medical school.

"I don't blame anyone or anything," said Panutich. "It happened."

She now practices naturopathic medicine. She can only speculate if it would have helped her late husband.


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