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Henrietta was not a woman of wealth. She did not have much education and truly only knew how to farm tobacco and slaughter pigs. She married David Lacks, her cousin whom was raised by their grandfather as Henrietta was. Her husband frequently cheated on her. Could this have helped to aid in her ending up with cancer, one might never know for certain, but if we know anything about health and cancer causes, it surely did not help any.Upon going to her initial doctor, it was first thought she had syphilis. The lump however, tested negative and so she was told to go to the Johns Hopkins GYN clinic. Upon arriving she was lead to the “colored-only” exam room. Makes you wonder if you would get the proper care that you truly need. One cannot imagine the uncomfortable feeling with glass walls separating everyone, no true privacy.
4Howard Jones, who was the gynecologist on duty, would be the man who examined Henrietta and hear her complaints. Dr. Jones states that Henrietta “two months prior to current visit, after delivery of fifth child, patient had significant blood in urine. Tests showed areas of increased cellular activity in the cervix. Physician recommended diagnostics and referred to specialist for ruling out of infection or cancer. Patient canceled appointment. (Skloot, Immortal, pg 16).” Dr. Jones continues by saying that “one month prior to current visit, patient tested for gonorrhea. Patient called to clinic for treatment. No response (Skloot, Immortal, pg 16).” No wonder she stayed away from hospitals and clinics, something like this would not have happened in today’s medical society.Upon checking Henrietta’s cervix, he found the lump. It was the size of a nickel. He states it was unlike any other he had seen before. It was shiny and purple in color, similar to grape Jell-O he would later note. It bled at the slightest touch. He took a sample of it to the lab and sent her home. He would put in his notes he does not know how it was not noticed prior unless either doctors missed it during her prior exams or it had actually grown at a petrifying rate. When the results would come back, it would confirm, Epidermoid carcinoma of the cervix and was categorized as stage 1. Now Richard Wesley TeLinde would become involved. TeLinde was known as a top cervical cancer expert during his time. At this time in his career, more than 15,000 women had died each year due to cervical cancer. A man in his position was trying to gather research and figure out ways to reduce such things from happening.In 1951, the world of medicine would forever change due to the discovery of the first immortal cells. These very cells were the ones who came from Henrietta. Without asking or informing her they took samples from her cervix. It was not until Henrietta would lose her battle with this aggressive cervical cancer, that they would name these cells, HeLa in her honor. In a
5sense it was the least they could do. It would be TeLinde and George Gey, who would exploit her