As I listened to Rebecca Skloot's amazing biography I looked at the picture on the book cover. The image haunted me as I heard the story. The book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has been out for a few years so I'm a little late to the party, but I must say, it's an incredible story.
The picture of the book's focus haunted me because of what happened to not only her, but her children and grandchildren. And if her story wasn't enough, the result of her life has affected almost every person on the planet either directly or indirectly. She and the research done because of her, are that important. I'm not scientist, but you don't have to be to understand and appreciate this story.
Skloot's book, which required years of the author's life to document, tells the story of one woman who died of cancer in 1951. Before she passed away samples of a growth were taken from Henrietta and sent to a laboratory. Scientist had tried for years to see if human cells could survive under laboratory conditions without success. Henrietta's cells changed that. Not only did they survive, but they thrived. So much so that these cells from that one sample can be found all over the world more than sixty years later.
There are so many amazing facts in Skloot's book it's hard to isolate even a few to include here. The book is more than a simple story about a woman who died of cancer. Just as one person's life affects so many others, Skloot presents us with a true story of love, sacrifice, heartbreak and how we are all connected.
The picture, for me, is haunting. If you read Skloot's book, you may just agree.
§ Photo used without permission from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henrietta_Lacks