By Mike Gange
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
By Rebecca Skloot
Broadway Books, $18.00, 381 pages
The stage play and movie of the early 1960s, A Raisin in the Sun, is the story of an urban black family trying to determine their destiny and future directions. Part of what will shape the family’s future comes from the $10,000 life insurance left by the recently deceased father. How it should be spent and who makes that decision fuels the family’s dreams and debates. There are many obvious themes here: patriarchy/matriarchy, racism, sexism, urban swindlers, and family legacy. The play and movie, and its various themes, kept swirling around my head as I was reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
Henrietta Lacks is a black woman, born impoverished in Virginia in 1920. In 1951, shortly after the birth of her fifth child, daughter Deborah, Henrietta goes to John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and is diagnosed with cervical cancer. Doctors there took some cell samples, and tried to treat the cancer. Despite many radiation treatments, Henrietta eventually succumbs to the cancer. Throughout the treatments however, doctors continue to take cell samples to study.
You can find the rest of this review at this site: https://observersink.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/cells-for-sale/