In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, multiple cell research studies involving Henrietta’s cells are described. Author Rebecca Skloot writes about Henrietta Lacks’ journey through her cervical cancer and how her cells changed the lives of millions long after her death. Skloot relates the history of cell research, including those studies which were successful and those that were not so successful. It is necessary for the author to include the achievements and disturbing practices of scientists throughout this history to inform readers and focus on the way Henrietta’s cells were used. Truth always matters to readers and Henrietta’s family deserves the truth.
One morning four months after she was diagnosed we had to go to our local hospital in forest because she was vomiting blood. They were waiting to transfer her to Jackson because her oxygen levels were low. After her oxygen levels came up I decided to go home because I did not want to sit in Jackson all day and I had a date. I told her my goodbyes and told her I would see her later. After my boyfriend dropped me off at home my parents were frantic.
This story occurred during a time of segregation in the United States, when Henrietta Lacks believed she was receiving the best possible treatment for her illness. Unfortunately, at this point in time doctors believed radium treated cancer, which we know today can actually increase the risk for cancer and cell research was just beginning in medicine. The journey of Henrietta started with her medical treatment occurring on a “colored” ward at John Hopkins Hospital in the 1950’s and ending in a white laboratory where freezers sit full of HeLa cells; now today, her children and grandchildren live in East Baltimore and still struggle with the legacy of her cells. Henrietta’s tumor cells were taken from her body and given to a scientist named George Gey. Her cells were the first to live and grow outside of the body for an extended period of time, and they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years.
When my sister was three she started getting very sick. My mom thought she just had the flu. We had no idea what was wrong she had flu like symptoms but it lasted more then a week and every time she would eat she would throw up. My parents took her to the doctors in Austin and they could not find why she was so sick. So then my parents brought her to Rochester to see if they could find out what was wrong.
Better Safe than Sorry Breast cancer is genetic is a phrase I have heard my whole life. You would think I would have been prepared when I learned that my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I was not. I came home one night after softball practice, went straight to my room and found that my sister was crying. My sister didn’t hold her tongue for so long.
Now that we have some basic background on Henrietta Lacks, let’s take a look at her diagnosis and death. According to Rebecca Skloot, author of, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, “For a few months she had felt like a knot was in her stomach and after the birth of her fifth child, it was found to be a lump on he... ... middle of paper ... ...tta Lacks in all medical findings. In conclusion, the Henrietta Lacks cells have lived longer outside of her body than actually in it. Henrietta went from a small farm in Virginia with little education, to battling cervical cancer, and going on to change how we look at science in her short life. There are many areas of her life and legacy that I could have gone into today such as race discrimination, moral ethics, and patients’ rights but I have chosen to just give a overview on the facts surrounding her .
Henrietta Lacks was a young African American mother of four children, living a peaceful life in Clover, Virginia in the 1950’s. She was diagnosed with a vicious case of cervical cancer and died on October 4th, 1951. Before she died, a surgeon took samples of her tumor without her knowledge or consent for scientific study. Scientist George Gey was attempting to grow cells that had been removed from the human body, but all the samples collected eventually died. Things changed when he received Henrietta’s tumor cells; unlike other cells, those taken from Henrietta’s tumor reproduced outside of her body long after being removed, creating an entire generation every twenty-four hours.
No one wanted to face the fact the she had to go through this. As my sister and I told my grandma, “good luck” and reassured her everything would be okay, we all new how dangerous this surgery was. My grandmother was operated on in Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the doctor said she would be fine, but as time went on we found out that she wasn’t going to be fine. The day of the surgery, I came home from school to hear that something had happened during surgery. The doctor told my family that my grandmother had become septic which forced a second surgery and a move to the intensive care unit (ICU) for three weeks, where she had to be put on life support.
In January of 1951, doctors discovered the large tumor in Henrietta’s cervix. This was shortly after her daughter, Deborah, was born in 1950. Deborah never truly knew who her mother was as Henrietta passed away in October of 1951. Because the treatments and services offered by the Hopkins doctors were free for Henrietta and other patients, it was expected that their bodies and cases could be used for research and this was their payment. With this expectation, Henrietta’s cancer cells were contracted and given to Dr. George Gey.