Everlasting Henrietta

After reading part of The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks, it has become clear that Henrietta Lacks has provided us with vast discoveries from the polio vaccine to in vitro fertilization. She suffered from cervical cancer and unfortunately was unable to survive her battle from cancer. Henrietta’s cells referred to as “HeLa” were the first immortal cells that doctors had ever seen before.

I found it shocking that Henrietta Lacks was unaware that her cells were an unusual discovery; that is they were immortal. She had no idea that her cells were growing in the laboratory. Doctors felt she had no obligation to be aware of the procedures that they were performing on parts of her own body. Her cells were even being sold for $25 a vial.

When Henrietta received her biopsy report from the lab, revealing that her tumor was in fact malignant and was diagnosed with cancer, she decided not to tell anyone in an effort not to burden her family in friends. She felt it was something she could deal with her self and did not need sympathy from others. She went on with her day as if nothing ever happened.

My neighbor went through a similar situation as Henrietta Lacks. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in her 70s about two years ago. My family and I were very close with my neighbor and her husband. On New Years Day I found out from my other neighbor that she had suddenly died. Ginny decided not to tell any of her neighbors that she was suffering from pancreatic cancer for only about two months. She felt it wasn’t necessary to burden us with the terrible news that she was about to die. I was extremely upset that I wasn’t able to say goodbye to my neighbor because I had no idea of the situation that was occurring. I understand where she was coming from by not telling anyone, but I do wish that I knew so I could comfort her and be by her side as she was getting ready to leave and move on to heaven.

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