Henrietta Lacks

Mama Oprah is bringing Henrietta Lacks’ story to life and is currently filming it in Atlanta and h/t to Just Jared for the pics from the set. 

If you aren’t familiar with the story of Henrietta Lacks, NPR can catch you up, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and her cells were taken without her knowledge and used for research for 60 years.

Her cells were part of research into the genes that cause cancer and those that suppress it; they helped develop drugs for treating herpes, leukemia, influenza, hemophilia, and Parkinson’s disease; and they’ve been used to study lactose digestion, sexually transmitted diseases, appendicitis, human longevity, mosquito mating, and the negative cellular effects of working in sewers. Their chromosomes and proteins have been studied with such detail and precision that scientists know their every quirk. Like guinea pigs and mice, Henrietta’s cells (HeLa cells) have become the standard laboratory workhorse. – Rebecca Skloot

Now thankfully, her family has won the right to have a say in who gets to use the cells and publish what.

What’s interesting about Henrietta’s case is that prior to her, cells weren’t able to grow in the lab and for some reason hers were immortal and grew every 24 hours. It’s like something out of a scifi book. It also is the nightmare of many. Cervical cancer is one of the possibly outcomes when diagnosed with fibroids. One of those tumors could not be benign. It’s rare but it does occur.

Imagine you go in for surgery and they take something from you without your knowledge and use it for their own gain. Whether medical breakthroughs occur or not, consent is a big deal. It’s enough that it may make some reconsider getting the surgery that would help their lives greatly.

Glad this story is being told, and happy when anyone takes a look at the things that are affecting women that people don’t regularly talk about.

Can’t wait to see how Mama O does!

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