No one knows exactly how many died in Hiroshima, but it is estimated at more than 200,000, of which many were refugee women and children. Those near ground zero were instantly vaporised, leaving behind only a shadow on the ground or wall. Maybe they were the lucky ones, because many of the survivors died in agony from terrible burns. Some took a long time to die.
My mother suffered the effects of radiation for many years. I was in and out of hospitals with leukaemia until my mid-20s, and because of the possibility of having deformed babies I decided not to marry until much later in life. My brother had been affected by radiation and was unable to have children. My aunt, who had a silk dressing gown welded to her body and her fingers joined together like ducks' feet, took three years to die.
Recently I retraced my journey through Hiroshima with my husband and revisited the school where I received treatment on that dreadful day. It was a moment of mixed emotions, but I did feel strongly that this horror must never be allowed to happen again. The only certain way to ensure this is to destroy all nuclear weapons and ban the making of any more.
I wish it were possible to have the hope that one day nuclear weapons will be banned. But I think we're too violent a species for that ever to happen. What is possible, however, is for us to move in the direction away from using nuclear weapons instead of toward it as we clearly are doing now.