The Inspiration Behind the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center Crane Sculpture

Perhaps, you’ve noticed the crane sculpture over our lobby area. The unique piece has a special connection to the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center. Near the crane, you will find “The Sadako Story,” which explains its symbolism.

The author, Ritsuko Komaki, M.D., shares how a childhood friendship in her native Japan inspired her to pursue a career in radiation oncology. As a result, the crane was installed to commemorate her best friend, Sadako Sasaki.

The Sadako Story

The paper crane has become an international symbol of peace in recent years as a result of its connection to the story of a young Japanese girl named Sadako Sasaki. Sadako was two years old when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945.  As she grew up, Sadako was a strong, courageous and athletic girl. In 1955 at age 11, while practicing for a big race, she became dizzy and fell to the ground.  Sadako was diagnosed with Leukemia, “the atom bomb” disease.

Sadako’s best friend told her of an old Japanese legend which said that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes would be granted a wish. Sadako hoped that the gods would grant her a wish to get well so that she could run again.   She started to work on the paper cranes and completed over 1,000 before dying on October 25, 1955 at the age of twelve.

One of Sadako’s classmates was Dr. Ritsuko Komaki a radiation oncologist at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. It is because of the inspiration and courage of Sadako that Dr. Komaki became a radiation oncologist and has pursued a lifetime of healing the wounds of the past through her pursuit of radiation oncology.

It is our hope that all cancer patients, their families and those who care for them draw strength from the crane, just as Sadako did from her 1,000 paper cranes.

I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.

Sadako Sasaki