The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks #1 (1–7)

In this book we are introduced to a young women in Baltimore Maryland who goes by the name Henrietta Lacks. She attends the John Hopkins hospital for a knot that has come up in her womb (cervix). Henrietta is a black (African american women) and these chapters help to depict the healthcare system in the 1950's when many African american people did not have equal rights. Exemplified through the experiences of Mrs. Lacks. Rebecca Skloot specifically identifies how things were sometimes looked at as unethical and not safe and defines what would be Henrietta cervical cancer case.

Back to John Hopkins Hospital in 1950’s, Henrietta goes to the hospital for what seems like a knot on her womb. The cells for her malignant tumor in her cervix is removed without her even knowing and without consent. A doctor by the name of Dr. George Gey takes these samples to his lab and cultures them, and they become the first human cells to grow outside of the human body. I have briefly summarized the first few chapters to exemplify the unethical events that had taken place in the matter of Mrs.Lacks cancer case, from Rebecca Skloots point of view. I find myself wondering if what Rebecca defines as a very unethical case in the matter of Henrietta and poorly done, is more or less just a reflection on the time period and health care system in the 1950’s. Skloot made the effort too inform the reader that the hospital that Mrs.Lacks attends is the only hospital in Baltimore region that provides treatment to the African American people. I found this example to show truly the unfair treatment and unequal rights of the African American races at this time, through the fact that today there are hundred's of hospitals in Baltimore that treat all races. I really find myself questioning what it was really like for African american people to get help. If you look back at our history this was the same for jobs. The hard jobs that were very dangerous were typically left to the colored folks. I see this as the left overs are handed off, as well as the don’t want to be dealt with’s are left out.

Rebecca Skloot divides the book into three sections, life, death and immortality. Part one describes the upbringing of Henrietta by her grandfather on what used to be a slave owners farm, as well as her marriage to her cousin , Day Lacks. Then jumps to a deep explanation in to what happened during Mrs.Lacks first treatment for cervical cancer. The use of two settings which are in a past and present time period, really show that Rebecca feels it is important to inform the reader about Henrietta’s life and her cells.

From my readings thus far, I have come to realize why I was so intrigued by this book in the first place. How in just a few chapters the author managed to introduce me to the life of Henrietta lacks and her lasting impact on others. Her comparisons and connections of past racism and ideas to there lasting impact on our world today, more specifically the family of Mrs.Lacks and the town surrounding her life. I have thus far found this book to be a mystery for myself, we are being taken on this journey of a young author trying to find the right information and a women's life (Henrietta) with unexpected happenings.