"But I always have thought it was strange, if our mother cells done so much for medicine, how come her family can't afford to see no doctors? Don't make much sense. People got rich off my mother without us even knowin about them takin her cells, now we don't get a dime. I used to get so mad about that to where it made me sick and I had to take pills. But I don't got it in me no more to fight. I just want to know who my mother was."
Deborah Lacks, The Immortal Lifre of Henrietta Lacks
Author: Rebecca Skloot
Publisher/Publisher Date: Broadway Paperbacks/2011
Date Borrowed/Bought/Read: June 2011
What It's About: At the age of 31, Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951. Without her knowledge, doctors removed her cancer cells hoping that they would continue to grow outside the human body. Better known to scientists as HeLa, Henrietta's "immortal" cells have played an important role in developing polio vaccines, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Her cells have traveled all around the world, been to space, and used to test the effects of nuclear radiation.
Why I Chose to Read It: My mom told me about this book after hearing about Henrietta's story on the news. I was intrigued.
Notes About the Book:
- I learned a lot from this book about the history of medical ethics & it was terrifying! Did you know they used to inject patients with cancer cells (sometimes without even telling them) all in the name of research? And the part about what may have happened to Henrietta's daughter at The Hospital for the Negro Insane made me sick to my stomach.
- It was depressing to read about the heartache and stress Henrietta's children went through after learning about what doctors did to their mother. They didn't deserve to be treated the way they did and it's appalling to me that they don't have access to quality healthcare. Hopefully, things are better for them now that this book has come out.
- The part where Deborah & her brother went to go see their mother's cells for the first time choked me up.
- Rebecca Skloot is awesome and has the patience of a saint. I don't know how she put up with all that she did in researching for this book.
Do I Recommend It? YES! I could not put this book down. It was fascinating to read and each chapter was more shocking than the next. If you like the scientific writing & the humorous style of Mary Roach, I'm sure you'll love this book, too.