The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks, By Elie Wiesel

1672 Words 7 Pages
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Elie Wiesel is quoted saying, “We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.” The story of Henrietta Lacks, or “HeLa” as she is most commonly known, is a story of how one woman changed history so much and yet she has very little recognition. The reason Henrietta Lacks is not a household name is because the mainstream media and the scientific community overall does not know the person behind the cells, they only know what her cells have done to benefit them. Elie Wiesel mentions in the first part of his quote, “We must not see any person as …show more content…
Henrietta was such a caring and devoted mother that no one other that her sisters and husband even knew that she was sick, “Until that point, no one except Sadie, Margaret, and Day knew Henrietta was sick,” (65). Henrietta just wanted to take care of her children and live her life; sadly, that was cut short because of her cancer. The scientific community, like Henrietta, withheld many secrets from Henrietta’s family. The major one being that they were in possession of immortal cells that were extracted from Henrietta. The book says, “One of Gey’s colleagues told me that Gey created the pseudonym to throw journalists off the trail of Henrietta’s real identity...and because of that, her family had no idea her cells were alive,” (109). Keeping the family secluded from this kind of information means that they did not see her family as worthy of knowing; thus seeing them as a liability to the whole situation and as an abstraction. The media on the other hand did not keep very many secrets. In fact, they released some of Henrietta’s personal medical information to the public. On page 210 of the book it mentions a journalist, Michael Gold, and ac article that he published in a medical magazine. The article talks about the autopsy of the Henrietta in a disturbing …show more content…
Skloot took the time to get to know the family and really care about them and their feelings. She looked at the cells and saw the person rather than the benefits. Rebecca Skloot even said, “For me, it's writing a book and telling people about this story.” Rebecca Skloot is the reason that the story of Henrietta Lacks is available to anybody who wants to read it. There was one other person in the book who took the time to be patient with the family and his name is Christopher Lengauer. Lengauer is a cancer researcher at Johns Hopkins and uses HeLa almost on a daily basis. “I want to tell them a little what HeLa means to me as a young cancer researcher, and how grateful I am for their donation years ago. I do not represent Hopkins, but I am a part of it. In a way, I might even want to apologize,” (234) said Lengauer. He took the time to explain the cells to Deborah and Zakariyya and because of him they have an understanding of how their mother made a difference to the world. Deborah’s death affected Skloot in a way that one of her family’s deaths would have. To Skloot, Deborah was more than a coworker or a source, Deborah was a friend. And that is why Skloot was successful with this

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