Hela=Cancer? By:Jordan Owens

"Hello, Henrietta"

Cervical cancer is when a tumor forms on the lower part of a women's uterus that may be contracted from sex.

  • Symptoms include:
  • Pain in sexual intercourse
  • Abnormal bleeding during periods
  • Pain in pelvis or lower bellly
  • Can avoided with early discovery, then by having a pap smear test which was created in 1928.

Sadly, Henrietta did not tell anyone about her disease, until it was to late to be cured.

Henrietta Lacks, born on 1920 in Roanoke, Virginia was diagnosed with a fatal Case of Cervical cancer. She first became alarmed, when she felt a hard lump that had formed on her cervix, which was actually a tumor. Many months later, She finally went to Hopkins Hospital for treatment. The hospital was not favorable, but was chosen because it treated blacks and was the only hospital near her.While rehabilitating, she was medicated with Radiation. but the effects were temporary and she later died in the hospital October 4, 1951 at the age of 31. Before her death she had given birth to 5 children, whose lives would be greatly effected by her cells.

In the year February 8, 1951 before Henrietta's death, George Gey a cell biologist stole her cells from the tumor that had formed on her cervix , which was taken without consent. Gey had placed Henrietta's cells in a pastries dish, but unlike all of his other cells, they grew at a rapid rate. Scientists learned that cancer had the ability to produce a protein known as Telomerase, which allowed Cancer to duplicate at a faster rate and live longer outside of the body then ordinary cells. These cells were known as HeLa, named after the first 2 letters of her name. Surprisingly, her cells helped aid in the creation of many medications, which helped treat diseases like Polio, Leukemia, Aids, Hemophilia and many more. HeLa cells didn't just help make medication they also assisted in making a better understanding for scientist to understand how cells develop. In the year 1951 HeLa was the first cell ever to be cloned, so that scientist may obtain certain characteristic that cells have. Which would be to grow faster, being capable to be immune to certain diseases, and cloning made it possible to duplicate entire animals.

HeLa was known by many names Helen lane, Henrietta Lackes, Helen Larsen, but it wasn't until the year 1975 that Henrietta's true name was published in an article called Rolling Stone. It was 1973 that the Lacks family found out that Henrietta cells were still alive. Her children Lawrence, David, Deborah, and Joseph were all shocked by what they read, that their mother was being tested and sold. It was that same year that Researchers had taken blood samples from them, in order to make a gene map to identify what cells were HeLa in the contamination of 1966.

"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." -Elie Wiesel

Hopkins scientist only thought of Henrietta as a product and not as a human. They had sold her cells, experimented on them and cloned them, yet she was never given a better treatment, while living. Scientist never thought HeLa was stolen nor did they care. If it wasn't for Gey Correcting her name in 1971, HeLa would still be known as Helen Lane. Henrietta wasn't the only one with an unique capability, a guy named John Moore had his tissue taken from him in the year 1984, like Henrietta was taken without informed consent. Society never thinks about where and who the product comes from, but we never give them any credit for their contributions.


Created with images by skeeze - "hela cells cultured electron microscope"

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