Henrietta Lacks is a woman that helped advance medicine, and she doesn’t even know it. Henrietta was a poor woman of color who grew up in the 50s. She was a mother of five and a very tough woman. She didn’t know much about medicine, and was always denying medical treatment. She many complications with her pregnancies, but she never went to the doctor to get the issues fixed or checked out. Until one day she was telling her closest friends that she was in pain and wasn’t feeling well. Once she went to the doctors they found a tumor on her cervix. After many tests, it was said that she had stage I cervical cancer.
The top gynecologist, Richard Wesley TeLinde, was going to operate. He treated all of his patients with aggressive treatments. He believed that any cancer untreated was going to become deadly. He had an idea about trying to grow her cancer cells with normal cells so that he could prove that his aggressive treatment wasn’t extreme and that it was necessary. He asked his friend George Gey who grew cells (unsuccessfully) if he would be willing to help him. Gey was overexcited to help because maybe this would be the time that the cells would grow.
Henrietta was scheduled for surgery to try and get rid of the tumor. When she was under the doctor took two pieces of her cervix and sent it to the lab to see if the cells would grow, and THEY DID. These cells were not only growing, they were growing rapidly. Tubes and tubes of her cells were being collected; nothing could stop these cells from growing. Henrietta didn’t know though, she died only months later because the cancer took over all of her major organs.
Henrietta Lacks cells (HeLa Cells) were the first immortal human cells. These cells are still growing and being used today in many different forms of research. These cells are not only used in cancer research they are also used to study viruses, bacteria, and proteins.
Posted by Caitlyn Cordaro (1)