Women’s History Month

Our History Is Your History

Henrietta Lacks (August 1, 1920-October 4, 1951)

It all started with cervical cancer. Lacks went to Johns Hopkins for treatment, and without her permission, her cells were sent for study to another scientist who used the cells of all cervical cancer patients seen at Johns Hopkins.

What was soon discovered about Lacks’ cells was that unlike any they had ever seen, her cells reproduced instead of dying. Lacks’ cells have been used to study and cure a multitude of diseases. Without her cells, the experiments would have had to be done on humans.

Though Lacks has been made immortal by the constant reproduction of her cells, her family has not been paid for their use, and this exclusion has caused lots of controversies. The family was so poor that Lacks went without a grave marker for years.

In 2017 Oprah Winfrey produced and starred in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a movie based on Lacks’ life that you might be able to find streaming on a platform near you.

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