Henrietta Lacks

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

In the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks written by Rebecca Skloot, Skloot is a young white woman that becomes fascinated by Henrietta Lacks when she learns of her in a community college biology class. Henrietta Lacks was a young black woman who was never spoken of. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of thirty. When she received treatment for that cancer doctors unknowingly stole her cervical cells. These cells were named HeLa. In Skloots book she states, “Scientists had been trying to keep human cells alive in culture for decades, but they all eventually died. Henrietta’s were different: they reproduced an entire generation every twenty-four hours, and they never stopped. They became the first immortal human cells ever grown in a laboratory (4).” During the 1950s when Henrietta was being treated, patients were expected to trust their doctors. Patients were not supposed to ask questions, so Henrietta had no relationship with her doctors. I feel communication is essential for every patient because they need to be informed.

Communication I believe is one of the most valuable qualities of a doctor-patient relationship. With communication doctors can answer questions that patients have. They can inform and educate patients about their illnesses, treatment options and course of care. Doctors can also involve patients in decisions concerning their medical conditions. Without communication the doctor-patient relationship ceases to exist. Just the same as Henrietta Lacks doctor-patient relationship did. Henrietta’s doctors never explained all the side effects of the cancer treatments until Henrietta asked her doctor when she would be well enough to have another child. Until then she did not know that her cancer treatments had left her infertile, unable to conceive another child. One out of many of Henrietta’s doctors wrote, “Told she could not have any more children. Says if she had been told so before,...
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