Monday, October 5, 2015
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Before nursing school I had never heard of Henrietta Lacks or HeLa. Despite having taken microbiology, there was no reference in my textbook. This is strangely ironic because I have an interest cancer cells and their replication. I must have spent hours of online research on the internet and reading through my nursing texts- but no mention of Henrietta or HeLa cells to be found. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot was an eye opening and life changing book. This fast paced book was the right mix of narrative with indepth scientific insight into cancer and the behavior of cancer cells. I learned more from this book about cancer than all my texts and research. For example, I had always wondered if cancer contagion could be transmitted through a needle stick. I found my answer in this book. I found this and many more answers I had about cancer. Yet with all the technical information- the humanity of Henrietta was not forgotten. This book is a mix of social issues, equity in health care as well as the science of cancer. I went back and read this book a few more times. In fact I was inspired to conduct an experiment of my own using some left over tubes of broth medium from my microbiology class. Unlike the HeLa cells, the cells of my test sample grew for two weeks then died. No immortal cells in my sample as to be expected, the the spirit of this book lives on in driving my curiosity. As a blogger I recieved a copy of this book published by B/D/W/Y Broadway Books, an imprint of Crown Publishing, for the purpose of writing this review.