I have to admit that this is one of those books that I read because everyone else was reading it. I certainly would not seek it out on my own as I tend to stay away from the sciences. That said, I am glad that I read it. It raised a lot of important issues and made me realize that when I am in a doctor’s office I might want to read all of those forms I usually just carelessly sign.
Henrietta Lacks was being treated for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins when they discovered that her cells did not die — they kept multiplying. This gave scientists an everlasting source of cells to study. Using the cells from Henrietta, they were able to do great things and develop life-changing drugs and medicines.
But no one ever told the family. It took 20 years for the family to find out that her cells had become a multi-billion dollar industry, and her kids were so poor they could not afford to go to a doctor or get health insurance.
It’s an amazing story. I am glad that I read the book. I feel smarter for reading it. But it is so sad at the same time, and since it is a true story, you cannot wave off the sadness with the assurance that it’s “just fiction”. This actually happened/ is happening to this family, and I hope that the author is keeping her word to the family and putting proceeds from the book into education accounts for Henrietta’s grandchildren and great grandchildren.