We are on Day Two of our Black “Girl” History Month.
Today we will be celebrating Mrs. Henrietta Lacks.
Mrs. Lacks was a poor black farmer born August 1, 1920. She visited John Hopkins Hospital in 1951 with complaints of vaginal bleeding and was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The cells retrieved from her biopsy were sent to a lab for testing. The sample was received and tested by a virus and cancer researcher named Dr. George Gey. Dr. Gey discovered that Mrs. Lacks cells were unique as they did not die as all other samples in his lab had, but her cells instead doubled. Dr. Gey found Mrs. Lacks’ cells doubled every 20 to 24 hours. Mrs. Lacks cells, nickname HeLa cells, are still used today to study cancer treatment in the hopes of discovering a cure.
Mrs. Lacks passed away October 4, 1951 at the age of 31, but her cells remain alive til this day. Thanks to Mrs. Lacks, there has been great advancement in the study of cancer treatment. If you would like to learn more about Mrs. Henrietta Lacks, there is a book honoring her life titled The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.