In the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, the author demonstrates the harsh realities that many African Americans faced in the medical and scientific field during the mid 20th century. The author shows the unjust practices of this time period through interviews with the Lacks family and medical professionals. These harsh realities are proven when Skloot talks to Henrietta’s family. Henrietta’s husband, Day, explains how they took samples from Henrietta’s body without consent when Skloot writes, “Day clenched his remaining three teeth. "I didn't sign no papers," he said.
Rebecca Skloot’s purpose in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is to present Henrietta and her family’s story while presenting issues regarding science, ethics, race, and class in Henrietta’s story. Skloot also had a major goal of teaching people about Henrietta’s case so that it could be learned from in the future. This purpose can be broken down into three sub-purposes: showing the world the woman behind the science, discussing the roles of race and class, and critiquing science and ethical issues. By informing the reader about Henrietta Lacks’ cells that have changed the medical world and about the controversy surrounding them, Skloot is successful in presenting her purpose. All of these smaller purposes come together to create a novel that makes the reader think, feel, and want more of the Lacks’ riveting story.
Racism in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Imagine your mother, sister, wife, or cousin was diagnosed with cervical cancer and you believed the doctors were doing everything in their power to help her. Only later you discovered her cells were used for research without consent and she was not properly informed of the risks of her treatment due to her race. This story happened and is told by Rebecca Skloot in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Skloot use of narrative and her writing style enhances the understanding of the story. Henrietta Lacks was a young black woman who was diagnosed with cervical cancer at John Hopkins Hospital.
In the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, education plays a substantial role in what occurs throughout the book. Many major events are related to people not understanding what is happening to them. Skloot brings up the topic ’Lack of Education,’ frequently and this affected Henrietta's treatments, and how her family viewed the situation, and how the black community viewed scientist overall. In many occasions lack of education causes a major event to happen, “she didn't write much, and she hadn't studied science in school,”(pg 16) with little education Henrietta had no idea what was wrong with her. Without Henrietta or her family knowing symptoms of certain diseases Henrietta does not go to the hospital till the end.
The book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, written by Rebecca Skloot and examines the life of Henrietta Lacks and her peculiar situation with her mysterious cells. This paper will focus on chapter two in the novel and how it becomes the most important part of the book when it comes to understanding Henrietta’s life story. Chapter two is called “Clover (1920-1942)”, the chapter itself dissects the early life of Henrietta and the challenges she had growing up. In this chapter, it goes over the gender, economic, and racial obstacles that greatly impacted her. It is important to understand the socio-economic conditions that led Henrietta to be treated less than human.
Henrietta Lacks was thirty years old and found a ‘knot’ on her cervix, which led to her going to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer and treated with radium and x-ray therapy. Some of the tissue was removed from her tumor and sent to George Gey’s lab to be grown in test tubes. Gey was in charge of the Tissue Culture Department at Hopkins and had been researching and experimenting to attempt to make cells to divide so they could have an unlimited supply of cells to experiment on. Henrietta nor her family knew about the tissue sample and neither Gey or Hopkins informed them.
I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot for the first time in high school for a summer reading assignment I was rushing to complete the last week of summer break. Four years later, I chose to read this book again because I now have an interest in biochemistry, in particular a goal to study antiviral agents in the hopes of a Hepatitis B cure. This time around, I understood the significance this book had because it revealed details of the racist treatment of African Americas that are intertwined with the hidden truths and hypocritical acts of the medical system that unfortunately still exist. On October 4, 1951 Henrietta Lacks died from cervical cancer at the young age of 31.
I first heard about Henrietta Lacks story after noticing and advertisement of Oprah Winfrey directing or possibly playing the role of Ms. Lacks. Reading the caption underneath the picture posted I decided to inquire more about the Henrietta Lacks. Ms. Lacks was an African American woman who found out in 1951 after a biopsy, Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The manifestation of the tumor was unlike anything that had ever been seen by the examining gynecologist Dr. Howard Jones. Henrietta Lacks was treated at the segregated John Hopkins Hospital with radium tube inserted and sewn into her body, a standard treatment at that time sewn in her body.
Henrietta Lacks Honor Essay “The reason Henrietta's cells were so precious was because they allowed scientists to perform experiments that would have been impossible with a living human. They cut HeLa cells apart and exposed them to endless toxins, radiation, and infection. They bombarded them with drugs, hoping to find one that would kill malignant cells without destroying normal ones.” (58)”Throughout the book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” there are many examples of how the HeLa cell of Henrietta Lacks provided cellular information and examples that helped mold many cellular discoveries and experiments.
Is it right for one's life to be manipulated for the use of scientific research or is it just a evasion on the person's privacy. Henrietta Lacks was a African American with cells that intrigued many people, she was diagnosed with cancer leaving her to be cared for at her local hospital, where she would later die due to the extremity of the illness. While at the hospital she was unaware that the doctors there were experimenting on her taking cell samples from her body, to help find a resolution to multiple diseases. The people who examined Henrietta manipulated her and the rest of her family to gain information on her cellular structure to be ahead of others looking to achieve the same objective. Henrietta Lacks cells should have never been evaluated because it's an evasion of her freedom, a danger to her personal health, and cause conflicts.
Henrietta Lacks was a black tobacco farmer from the south who, in 1950, at the age of 30, she was diagnosed with aggressive cervical cancer. Lacks went to John’s Hopkins medical center for treatment for her cancer. In April of 1951, she underwent surgery to remove the larger tumor on her cervix. Henrietta Lacks, died three days following the surgery. Even though Henrietta Lacks died, her cells from the tumor have lived on and have made a major impact on the biomedical community.