The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

A Five Star Pick

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksWow.  This title is celebrating the fact that it has been on the best seller list now for two years running.  It doesn’t show signs of stopping.  Kinda like the remarkable cells that are the focus of this book.  Henrietta Lacks was unfortunately known only for her cells that kept growing and living, long after she died.  In fact, I did not know about her at all until I read about it.  It is a phenomenal true story of how this one woman, who came from a lower class area of southern United States, changed the way medical research was practiced.  Her cervical cancer began a medical breakthrough and revolution that would change the world with regards to cancer research and other diseases.  No one knew what kind of person Lacks was, except for her close family and friends.  The sad part of all this is that her cells were taken from her without consent, while doctors, scientists and medical companies made money off of her.  Her relatives knew nothing of this until many years later and did not get any kind of compensation for her cells’ contribution to science.  Skloot does a wonderful job in trying to recreate Lacks’ history, leading up to the point where she is diagnosed with cancer and how (while being treated) her cells were being experimented on.  The style of this documentary reads like a novel, except everything written is true.  If you haven’t read this book yet, I strongly urge you to.  You find out about how Lacks sacrificed herself for the benifit of others (even though she didn’t know or agree to it).  I’d say we should all get to know Henrietta—giving her the thanks and credit she deserves.

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