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I Am A "Downwinders" Suvivor

Updated on March 4, 2015

Downwinders are people who live ‘downwind’ of nuclear fallout.

I live in the tops of the Rocky Mountains and have done so all my life.

Where I live , we are all known as 'Downwinders'.

Downwinders are people who live ‘downwind’ of nuclear fallout.

In 1951 nuclear testing began in Frenchman Flat, a site north of Las Vegas, Nevada. Frenchman Flat was chosen because of it’s low population and easterly winds that blow across hundreds of miles of flat, government owned land.

Because of the wars in Asia, the conflict in Korea, and the Cold War with Russia, the United States Government elected to discontinue testing in the Pacific Ocean and test inland, mostly because of economics. It was much less expensive than testing in the ocean.

I was born in 1952 before the term ‘downwinders’ was coined. Because of the Cold War, I remember nuclear survival training in elementary school. “Radiation Poisoning” were scary words. We had drills and were taught about living in a world after nuclear war. We were advised to stay indoors when we saw red in the sky, and even had ‘red day warnings’ issued from the school when radiation was particularly heavy.

I was never concerned. As a matter of fact, I though myself brave for playing outdoors when others didn’t. Living ‘downwind’ was not going to scare me.

Atomic testing during the first two years actually received very little attention. Not many were concerned about it. But within three to five years, leukemia and other radiation-caused cancers began to appear in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada. Thus, the term ‘downwinders’ began to emerge.


My Childhood

From childhood I had stomach problems.  I wasn’t hungry and I wouldn’t eat.  I remember my mother saying, “You don’t eat enough to keep a bird alive.”

I remember my head spinning, and I felt like I was being violently shaken when I would shut my eyes.

As I grew, ‘I just didn’t feel good’.  My hair was thin and lifeless.  I was really skinny.  My neighbors called me “Skindy” instead of ‘Cindy’.  I was whinny.

 In my early teens I was diagnosis with low thyroid. I was tired and fatigued.  I couldn’t sleep.  I remember not wanting to go to bed, because then I would have to get up.  I was so weak, I felt like I had to use my left hand to move my right arm. My body temperature was low, around 97.6 to 98.0.  I noticed when my body temp was above 98, I actually felt good, at least good enough to live.  Being a downwinder didn’t really cross my mind.

My Early Married Life

My early years of marriage were hard.  I remember crying when I finally found a book by Adelle Davis on nutrition and it described nearly exactly how I felt.   I began to think about the reality of the life of downwinders.

The doctors finally decided my body just wasn’t absorbing the little food I was eating.  I was so skinny you could wrap your fingers around my upper arm and overlap them to the knuckles. The doctors told my husband I was dying.  ‘Downwinders’ was becoming a part of our vocabulary.

My hormones were screwed up, and my adrenal glands were depleted.  I was so tired I didn’t want to live.  But still I carried on.

The problem with nuclear fallout is that the radiation is not biodegradable.  It stays in the ground for 20 years.  It becomes part of the vegetation, the animal life, the water.  Even after the nuclear testing stopped, radiation became a part of our life.  We ate it, we drank it, we played in it.


Before People, The Animals Began To Die

Before people, animals began to die. In 1955-56, five lawsuits were filed by ranchers against the government. Sheep began to show burns around the faces and lips, ewes miscarried their lambs, and wool sloughing off in clumps revealing ugly blisters. Lambs that did manage to be born were born stillborn with grotesque deformities, or so weak they didn’t survive more than a couple of weeks. These downwinders lost as much as a third of their herds.

I found relief through natural means of detoxification ---like coffee enemas. ---NOT FUN. But, my health did get better. I began to gain a little weight and my hormones began to straighten out with the use of black cohosh, a natural herb for estrogen. My depression lightened.

Interestingly, my husband, also a downwinder, was radioactive. He recharged watch batteries and set off Geiger counters. When a child, his mother would snap a throw rug out the back door. If there were sparks, she would keep the kids inside, if not they were permitted to go outside to play.

No one really thought about the long term effects of radiation would have in the water and soil.

My Children

 Our children were always sick. Stomach aches were the worst. Sleep problems, ear aches, tonsillitis, strep infections, bladder infections, swelling in the joints,  headaches, irritability, constipation and diarrhea, concentration problems, noise sensitivity were just a few of the problems they had. Through a hair analysis, we found my two oldest, age 7 and 8, had extremely low potassium and excessively high copper.  Potassium supplement did not boost potassium levels. My 7yr old was diagnosed with childhood depression.  

My 2yr old had a 10 day cycle of reoccurring diarrhea. At Christmas time, in desperation I went to an alternative doctor as the diarrhea had lasted for over a year. We found acidophilus cleared it up.  I traced many of our problems to the water.

I suspected ‘downwinders syndrome’.

Most of my children had low body temperatures and chronic ear, nose and throat problems and stomach pain.  –Yet, there was nothing medically wrong. 

I was hooked.  Alternative, nutritional, natural medicine became my direction.  Unless we had a broken leg or a fever, we stayed away from the doctors. 

I Was Diagnosised With Cancer

In 2005 I was diagnosis with breast cancer. Mine was the classic type identified with the fallout of the 1950-’80. It was confirmed, I was officially a ‘Downwinder’.

I had no problem proving my exposure and I received the $50,000.00 compensation. Known as ‘Downwinders Compensation”, the US Government has set up a fund to help people like me who are ‘downwind’ of nuclear testing, to pay for their cancer treatments.

Luckily, I am a downwinders cancer survivor with a story to tell. I went into cancer with the idea of learning all I could, because I knew it was something my children and grandchildren would be facing.

Our world is contaminated. Although it is not all due to nuclear fallout, I think downwinders story is worth sharing because chemical and heavy metals contamination is growing. I beat the battle of nuclear fallout contamination and want to share what I have learned with others.

Cancer is now affecting one in every two people, and will soon be one of every one. That means all of you. Readers Digest reports that cancer is not a deadly disease anymore, it is a chronic disease. And, we better learn to live with it.

Please look into my story and build on it. There are natural things out there that compliment modern chemotherapy medicine. Working side by side with modern medicine is the way to go. I was lucky, my chemotherapy doctor encouraged me to do all I could to enhance the treatments. He worked with me. It worked wonders for me.

Simple things like oxygenated water and air, antioxidants, rest and micronized zeolites. There is no ‘only ‘answer.

In A Way, We Are all 'Downwinders'

We live in a toxic environment. We can live healthy. But, we must learn HOW.

Unbelievably, I felt better on chemotherapy than I have any time in my whole life. Through the use of all my learned natural means alongside traditional medicine, I had no problem with throwing up or nerve damage to my finger tips or deep bone ach. The chemo killed the cancer sells, through complementary means, I stayed healthy.

Years of heavy-weight anti-oxidents, medical mushrooms and clean air and water was what worked for me. You can see my "before" and "after "pictures" by Clicking Here.

The use of zeolite has developed to the level where it is able to speed the process and boost the immunity. I have found an inexpensive, yet powerful source from Redmond Clay. It is a natural form of inland zeolite or bentonite clay that is hugely effective for pulling heavy metals from the body. Remember, it is important to use clean, natural water (a bigger problem to get than you might think). You can't eliminate heavy metals, if you are ingesting heavy metals.

You don't have to be a downwinder of nuclear testing to be toxic. Nuclear toxins stay in our soil and water supply for many many years. Our children are toxic from birth. We are all downwinders.

Do You Have A Downwinders Experience Or Comment?

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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I know well what you mention. My mom was a meteorologist with Nat'l Weather Svc, assigned to theNuclear Test Site. She was pregnant with me when 'Priscilla' was set off June 24, 1957. It was supposed to be an uunderground test, but was stronger than she was told it would be--and the winds shifted directly over her location. Her clothes were blasted /melted off the left side of her body; somehow she did not lose me to the radiation poisoning. I was always very sick, had a goiter at 3, spent an average of 3 mos out of every year in Sunrise Hospital. Mom started losing coworkers and friends within a few short years. She had Melanomas on her LEFT side, had an unusual metastatic BC originating on the LEFT side, as well as vascular and thyroid abnormalities. She died in 2004, but the cancer was left off the death certificate; I still feel that was NO accident through the VA.

      So now I wonder, am I a PARTICIPANT, as well as a DOWNWINDER??? So many precancers, unusual cell changes, and rare diagnoses (an MS-like disease only one of many). But Without an official cancer diagnosis, I do not qualify for any reparations.

      I am so glad you can be alive to share your story! You have helped give me hope.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Your the first link I have found about 2nd or 3rd generation of downwinders. My mom died from brain and lung cancer at 43 in 1982 and was a downwinder. My dad received the 50,000 and split it with myself and my brother, I survived breast cancer in 2011. Now I am having my thyroid removed because it shows multi nodules, so with my history its best to remove it. So my question is can I file a claim? Do I need all my mothers info?And should I have my 3 children be tested also? Thank you for all that you can tell me.

    • skye2day profile image


      7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Hanna Blessings sister. Wow. You are so right that the world is toxic. Wonder why the kids get so tall and develop so fast. Hormones to the animals. Your story is something Hanna. You have had your tribulations. Now God has you sharing with others so you can touch them. You took much courage in writing this. I am sure it had to be hard going back. I pray for you and yours Hanna and I ask the Good Lord to Bless you in abundance today and always. Thank you for a great bitter sweet read. There is hope in Christ. The nutrients can really help someone. Hugs to you hanna.

    • BkCreative profile image


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      This is just awful. And you are right - it is always something. Like now I know of so many people who have mesothelioma - a serious disease caused by handling asbestos - that takes decades to show up - and the corporations knew about the dangers.

      We live in a toxic soup and have been told it's progress. Nonsense. This is profit only for a few. The rest can drop dead.

      While adults often defend toxic jobs in the name of income - how can we treat our children like this? If we fight, argue and get ugly for no other reason except for children then we have made a difference.

      Thanks for a great hub. Rated up!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      A great hub and thank you so much for sharing.

      I now look forward to reading many more hubs from you.

      Take care


    • HealthyHanna profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utah

      Thanks for all your comments. It is a fact of life we are all facing, I fear. But, then if it isn't fallout, it will be something else, we all just need to do what we can to be healthy. Mother Nature has an answer for just about anything, if we will work with her instead of killing her.

      I hope this comes across as encouraging, not whinny. Nuclear fallout, acid rain, pollution, low nutrition ... all have their long term affects. Together we can survive! God has not forgotten us.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Wow! This is shocking. I had no idea of any "Downwinders Syndrome." Thank you for the illumination. I don't know what else to say at this moment. I am speechless.

    • sammyfiction profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      This is so surreal! You always hear of things like this in novels about triumph; but almost never in real life. I am really happy for you! :)

    • fucsia profile image


      7 years ago

      Every things we do to our World affect all of us. Thanks for sharing your story. It makes me think that we are not individuals but part of whole.

    • HealthyHanna profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utah

      Thank Cari Jean. I haven't really shared my story before. But considering what has happened in Japan, I thought it might be time. We have pretty much learned how to 'fix' things. I really am pretty healthy now.

    • Cari Jean profile image

      Cari Jean 

      7 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      Very fascinating story and information. I am so glad you have found health after everything you went through. I pray the rest of your family is healthy as well. Makes me think of what is going on Japan and how that will affect everyone. Thanks for sharing your story and your wisdom.


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