Henrietta Lacks

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In movies, television shows, and books, countless supermen, superwomen, and cartoon heroes have been portrayed as escaping death, of being immortal. But, they have all been fictional characters and figments of imaginations, because as we all know, no one can live forever. In the book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot introduces us to Henrietta and her life and tells us the story of the immortal HeLa cells. In essence, Henrietta is a superwoman, a real-life hero who has transcended race, advanced medicine, and saved millions of lives, without even knowing it.

The first part of Skloot’s book depicting Henrietta’s life was extremely interesting and intriguing. I was impressed by the work that Skloot went through in simply researching and learning more about Lack’s history. The amount of people talked to, documents studied, and research performed by her was amazing. The first person accounts of Lack’s life made her story really come alive. I was deeply impacted by the quality person Henrietta was. Despite poverty, racism, and illness, she had an upbeat attitude and positive outlook on life. Her circumstances would have made it easy and excusable for her to complain, but she stayed strong and determined for her family. I can’t imagine how hard it was for her to say good-bye to her children, especially her daughter Elsie. It also struck me how genuinely friendly and caring she seemed with everyone she came in contact with. Her house always had an open door and warm meal on the table. It’s not often that you meet a person with that large of a heart.

While reading this book, I gained a great understanding and better perspective of the struggles and difficulties African-Americans faced each and every day. Racism affected every facet of their life, and for Henrietta it may have made the difference between life and death. I am appalled at the quality of care and treatment she received from John Hopkins, a supposedly well-known and well-regarded...
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