Hela: Henrietta Lacks and Author Rebecca Skloot Essay

Submitted By sammyro11
Words: 700
Pages: 3

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” A book sold world-wide and the story we had to read for our freshman year here at Saint Xavier University impacted everyone who picked up the book. The author Rebecca Skloot explores the life of Henrietta and uncovers the truths of what really happened. The story was about a poor black woman whose cells were taken without her knowledge in 1951. As a result of stealing her cells, it became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for the development of the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billons, but yet Henrietta Lacks remains practically unknown, buried in an unmarked grave. The book is notable for its accessible science writing and dealing with ethical issues of race and class in medical research. This book changed the view of medical care for those who read it, and those who read it wanted to justify for those who couldn’t. HeLa’s story angered people and upset them for they could not believe what had happened to her. Personally, the book made me open my eyes and see how cruel the world can really be. It upset me that the people that were supposed to help Henrietta denied her of care. Doctors and nurses were created to provide care for the sick and help to make them better. It made me even angrier that when she found help her cells were taken without her knowledge and generated billions of dollars, but her family received none. Yes, great things came from retaining her cells, but it was gone about in the wrong way. In her case this was because of her social status and racial background she was denied care. Henrietta had suffered for some time from what she described as a painful "knot on my womb." She sought treatment at Johns Hopkins, a charity hospital and the only one around that treated black patients. The diagnosis: cervical cancer. Before administering radium for the first time, the attending doctor cut two dime-size samples of tissue, one cancerous and one healthy, from HeLa’s cervix. No one asked permission or even informed her. A personal experience of my own unkind treatment was by a nurse when I was five at Hope children’s hospital. I was nervous going in being so young and not knowing what was wrong with my body. I felt so much pain in my side, running a fever, had the chills, and sweats, which they came to diagnose as my appendix. I was put into surgery and the next thing