The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

An African American wife and mother with a sixth-grade education, Henrietta Lacks dies at 31 of a particularly aggressive form of cervical cancer. Without her knowledge or consent, doctors at Johns Hopkins take samples of her cancerous cells and use them to form the first immortal human cell line, which becomes known as HeLa, and is used for countless medical innovations and discoveries. Before her illness, Henrietta is beautiful, vivacious, fearless, and devoted to her children. She is married to Day Lacks, and is the mother of Deborah, Elsie, Lawrence, Sonny, and Joe. Henrietta is also known among her family for keeping her nails painted a bright red.

Henrietta Lacks Quotes in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks quotes below are all either spoken by Henrietta Lacks or refer to Henrietta Lacks. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism, Classism, and Sexism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Random House edition of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks published in 2010.
Prologue Quotes

The Lackses challenged everything I thought I knew about faith, science, journalism, and race. Ultimately, this book is the result. It’s not only the story of HeLa cells and Henrietta Lacks, but of Henrietta’s family—particularly Deborah—and their lifelong struggle to make peace with the existence of those cells, and the science that made them possible.

Related Characters: Rebecca Skloot (the author) (speaker), Henrietta Lacks, Deborah (Dale) Lacks
Page Number: 8-9
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 1 Quotes

For Henrietta, walking into Hopkins was like entering a foreign country where she didn’t speak the language…she’d never heard the words cervix or biopsy. She didn’t read or write much, and she hadn’t studied science in school. She, like most black patients, only went to Hopkins when she thought she had no choice.

Related Characters: Rebecca Skloot (the author) (speaker), Henrietta Lacks
Related Symbols: Johns Hopkins
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

Henrietta’s cells weren’t merely surviving, they were growing with mythological intensity...They kept growing like nothing anyone had ever seen, doubling the numbers every twenty-four hours, stacking hundreds on top of hundreds, accumulating by the millions.

Related Characters: Rebecca Skloot (the author) (speaker), Henrietta Lacks
Related Symbols: HeLa
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

Everything always just about the cells and don’t even worry about her name and was HeLa even a person…You know what I really want? I want to know, what did my mother smell like? For all my life I just don’t know anything, not even little common little things, like what color did she like? Did she like to dance? Did she breastfeed me? Lord, I’d like to know that. But nobody ever say nothing.

Related Characters: Deborah (Dale) Lacks (speaker), Henrietta Lacks
Page Number: 61-62
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

Each day, Henrietta’s doctors increased her dose of radiation, hoping it would shrink the tumors and ease the pain until her death. Each day the skin on her abdomen burned blacker and blacker, and the pain grew worse.

Related Characters: Rebecca Skloot (the author) (speaker), Henrietta Lacks
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

Now I don’t know for sure if a spirit got Henrietta or if a doctor did it…but I do know that her cancer wasn’t no regular cancer, cause regular cancer don’t keep on growing after a person die.

Related Characters: Hector Henry (Cootie) (speaker), Henrietta Lacks
Related Symbols: HeLa
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes

Mary’s gaze fell on Henrietta’s feet, and she gasped: Henrietta’s toenails were covered in chipped bright red polish. “When I saw those toenails,” Mary told me later, “I nearly fainted. I thought, Oh jeez, she’s a real person. I started imagining her sitting in her bathroom painting those toenails, and it hit me for the first time that those cells we’d been working with all this time and sending all over the world, they came from a live woman. I’d never thought of it that way.”

Related Characters: Rebecca Skloot (the author) (speaker), Mary Kubicek (speaker), Henrietta Lacks
Related Symbols: HeLa, Henrietta’s Fingernails and Toenails
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 13 Quotes

Black scientists and technicians, many of them women, used cells from a black woman to help save the lives of millions of Americans, most of them white. And they did so on the same campus—and at the very same time—that state officials were conducting the infamous Tuskegee syphilis studies…

Related Characters: Rebecca Skloot (the author) (speaker), Henrietta Lacks
Related Symbols: Tuskegee Institute
Page Number: 112
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Chapter 15 Quotes

No one told Sonny, Deborah, or Joe what had happened to their mother, and they were afraid to ask…As far as the children knew, their mother was there one day, gone the next.

Related Characters: Rebecca Skloot (the author) (speaker), Henrietta Lacks, Sonny Lacks
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

It sound strange…but her cells done lived longer than her memory.

Related Characters: Rebecca Skloot (the author) (speaker), Hector Henry (Cootie) (speaker), Henrietta Lacks
Related Symbols: HeLa
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 21 Quotes

Can you tell me what my mama’s cells really did?...I know they did something important, but nobody tells us nothing.

Related Characters: Lawrence Lacks (speaker), Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot (the author)
Related Symbols: HeLa
Page Number: 185
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John Hopkin didn’t give us no information about anything. That was the bad part. Not the sad part, but the bad part, cause I don’t know if they didn’t give us information because they was making money out of it or if they was just wanting to keep us in the dark about it. I think they made money out of it, cause they were selling her cells all over the world and shipping them for dollars.

Related Characters: Rebecca Skloot (the author) (speaker), Sonny Lacks (speaker), Henrietta Lacks
Related Symbols: HeLa
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

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You know what is a myth?...Everybody always saying Henrietta Lacks donated those cells. She didn’t donate nothing. They took them and didn’t ask.

Related Characters: Rebecca Skloot (the author) (speaker), Bobbette Cooper (speaker), Henrietta Lacks
Related Symbols: HeLa
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 30 Quotes

Only people that can get any good from my mother cells is the people that got money, and whoever sellin them cells—they get rich off our mother and we got nothing…All those damn people didn’t deserve her help as far as I’m concerned.

Related Characters: Rebecca Skloot (the author) (speaker), Joe Lacks (Zakariyya) (speaker), Henrietta Lacks
Related Symbols: HeLa
Page Number: 281
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Chapter 31 Quotes

Truth be told, I can’t get mad at science, because it help people live, and I’d be a mess without it. I’m a walking drugstore! I can’t say nothing bad about science, but I won’t lie, I would like some health insurance so I don’t got to pay all that money every month for drugs my mother cells probably helped make.

Related Characters: Rebecca Skloot (the author) (speaker), Deborah (Dale) Lacks (speaker), Henrietta Lacks
Related Symbols: HeLa
Page Number: 292
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Chapter 32 Quotes

Deborah and Zakariyya stared at the screen like they’d gone into a trance, mouths open, cheeks sagging. It was the closest they’d come to seeing their mother alive since they were babies.
[Deborah] raised the vial and touched it to her lips. “You’re famous,” she whispered, “Just nobody knows it.”

Related Characters: Rebecca Skloot (the author) (speaker), Henrietta Lacks, Deborah (Dale) Lacks, Joe Lacks (Zakariyya)
Page Number: 302
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Chapter 35 Quotes

Take one of me and my sister by her and my mother grave…It’ll be the only picture in the world with the three of us almost together.

Related Characters: Deborah (Dale) Lacks (speaker), Henrietta Lacks, Deborah (Dale) Lacks
Related Symbols: Clover and Lacks Town, Crownsville State Hospital
Page Number: 327
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LORD, I KNOW you sent Miss Rebecca to help LIFT THE BURDEN of them CELLS…GIVE THEM TO HER!...LET HER CARRY THEM.

Related Characters: Gary (speaker), Henrietta Lacks, Deborah (Dale) Lacks
Related Symbols: HeLa
Page Number: 335
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Chapter 36 Quotes

In that moment…I understood completely how some of the Lackses could believe, without doubt, that Henrietta had been chosen by the Lord to become an immortal being. If you believe the Bible is the literal truth, the immortality of Henrietta’s cells makes perfect sense. Of course they were growing and surviving decades after death, of course they floated through the air, and of course they’d led to cures for diseases and been launched into space. Angels are like that. The Bible tells us so.

Related Characters: Rebecca Skloot (the author) (speaker), Henrietta Lacks
Page Number: 339
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 37 Quotes

This child will someday know that her great-grandmother Henrietta helped the world!...So will that child…and that child…and that child. This is their story now. They need to take hold of it and let it teach them they can change the world too.

Related Characters: James Pullum (speaker), Henrietta Lacks, Davon, JaBrea
Page Number: 349
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 38 Quotes

Heaven looks just like Clover, Virginia. My mother and I always loved it down there more than anywhere else in the world.

Related Characters: Rebecca Skloot (the author) (speaker), Deborah (Dale) Lacks (speaker), Henrietta Lacks
Related Symbols: Clover and Lacks Town
Page Number: 355
Explanation and Analysis:

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Henrietta Lacks Character Timeline in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The timeline below shows where the character Henrietta Lacks appears in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue: The Woman in the Photograph
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...“leave her five children motherless and change the future of medicine.” The photo is labeled, “Henrietta Lacks, Helen Lane, or Helen Larson.” The author relates that this picture has been used... (full context)
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Rebecca describes staring at this photo, wondering about Henrietta and her family, and contemplating how Henrietta would feel about cells from her cervix being... (full context)
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Rebecca remembers how she first learned about HeLa in 1988, thirty-seven years after Henrietta died. In a community college biology class at age 16, her professor, a man named... (full context)
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...misfiring, or one protein activating incorrectly will cause cancer. It is here that Defler introduces Henrietta Lacks, who died in 1951 from a particularly aggressive case of cervical cancer. Defler goes... (full context)
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...almost any cell culture lab in the world would possess millions, or even billions, of Henrietta’scells. Essentially, according to Defler, HeLa cells are one of the most important medical innovations of... (full context)
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After class, Rebecca visits Defler’s office to ask him about Henrietta’sbackground, but he replies, “no one knows anything about her.” Rebecca goes to her textbook to... (full context)
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...in many different subjects, and using the cells herself in experiments. No one, however, mentions Henrietta’s name. With the beginning of the Internet in the mid-nineties, the author searches for information... (full context)
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As Rebecca continues through grad school, she remains intrigued by Henrietta Lacks. She tells the reader that this exploration would begin “a decade long adventure.” Rebecca... (full context)
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...safe and almost entirely white. Rebecca believes in reason and science, while Deborah believes that “Henrietta’s spirit lived on in her cells.” The author ends her introduction by observing that the... (full context)
Chapter 1: The Exam
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It is January 29, 1951, and David Lacks, Henrietta’s husband, is waiting with his three children outside Johns Hopkins Hospital. A few minutes earlier,... (full context)
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We flash back a year, to when Henrietta tells her cousins and close friends, Margaret and Sadie, that she has “a knot inside... (full context)
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About a week later, the twenty-nine-year-old Henrietta is pregnant yet again with Joe, her fifth child. Sadie and Margaret believe that the... (full context)
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...in 1889, it services large numbers of poor, black patients. In fact, the reason that Henrietta visits there is because “it was the only hospital for miles that treated black patients”... (full context)
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After Henrietta waits, a nurse leads her to a “colored-only” exam room. Howard Jones, an older Southern... (full context)
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The author explains that it is unsurprising that Henrietta didn’t return for follow-ups; “like most black patients,” she only went to Hopkins when it... (full context)
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Henrietta tells Dr. Jones about the pain and the blood, and adds that she has found... (full context)
Chapter 2: Clover
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Henrietta Lacks was born with the name “Loretta Pleasant” in August 1920 in Roanoke, Virginia; no... (full context)
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Henrietta and Day would get up at 4 AM every morning to tend to the farm... (full context)
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...Street where, on nice days, the white members of the town would loiter and gossip. Henrietta and her cousins would hire themselves out there, harvesting tobacco in order to get money... (full context)
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Henrietta and Day grow older, racing horses along the dirt road that runs through the former... (full context)
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When he finds out that Henrietta is going to marry Day, Crazy Joe Grinnan stabs himself. Eventually his father ties him... (full context)
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Henrietta and Day get married on April 10, 1941. Soon after, the U.S. enters WWII, and... (full context)
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Fred has returned to Clover to try to convince Henrietta and Day to come back to Turner Station with him. The men decide that Henrietta... (full context)
Chapter 3: Diagnosis and Treatment
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The narrative returns to 1951. After visiting Hopkins, Henrietta gets a diagnosis: she has a type of cervical cancer called epidermoid carcinoma. “Carcinoma” refers... (full context)
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On February 5, 1951, Dr. Jones calls Henrietta to tell her the results of her biopsy. Henrietta tells no one in her family... (full context)
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ForHenrietta’streatment, doctors use glass tubes of radium. They were sewn into containers called Brack plaques, named... (full context)
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The surgeon on duty, a man named Dr. Lawrence Wharton Jr., dilates the unconscious Henrietta’s cervix to treat her tumor. Although Henrietta has no idea that her cervix is going... (full context)
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Henrietta’s tissue samples travel to George Gey, who greets them eagerly. His assistants, however, believe that... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Birth of HeLa
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...with cages full of lab animals. Gey comes to tell Mary that he’s left her Henrietta’s sample to work with. She reacts without enthusiasm, even though she knows that the longer... (full context)
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Mary Kubicek follows the sterilization rules to the letter before working with Henrietta’s sample. This process done, Mary uses forceps and a scalpel to cut the sample ofHenrietta’s... (full context)
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...and fluids move about inside the human body. After she finishes cutting the samples from Henrietta, Mary Kubicek inserts them into the device and turns it on. (full context)
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Henrietta, meanwhile, is in the hospital after her first radium treatment. Doctors have performed many invasive... (full context)
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Mary checks on Henrietta’scells. Although she initially doesn’t believe that they’re growing, two days after Henrietta is sent home,... (full context)
Chapter 5: Blackness Be Spreadin All Inside
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Meanwhile Henrietta has no idea that her cells are growing in a lab. She has returned home,... (full context)
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The author turns her attention to Henrietta’soldest daughter, the mentally impaired Elsie. Before her illness, Henrietta would frequently take Elsie to Clover.... (full context)
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While Henrietta’schildren behave when she’s in the house, Lawrence runs wild when she’s gone, going down to... (full context)
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For six weeks after her first radium treatment, no one in Turner Station knows of Henrietta’sillness. At the appointment for her second radium treatment, the doctors note that the tumor seems... (full context)
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The doctors believe that Henrietta is doing better, as the tumor has disappeared from the radium treatments and her cervix... (full context)
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After her treatments, Henrietta walks to Margaret’s, where Day picks her up. Soon enough, Henrietta’s bleeding clears up. At... (full context)
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Three weeks after she begins X-ray therapy, Henrietta begins to feel a painful burning sensation when she urinates. While Day claims that she... (full context)
Chapter 6: “Lady’s on the Phone”
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We move to 1999, eleven years after Rebecca learned about Henrietta’s existence. Rebecca has found a collection of papers from “The HeLa Cancer Control Symposium” at... (full context)
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Rebecca calls Deborah and tells her that she wants to write a book about Henrietta. Deborah is cautious but polite, until Rebecca comments how important Henrietta’s cells were to science.... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Death and Life of Cell Culture
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...giving them an “overview of cell structure and cancer.” He uses a bottle full of Henrietta’s cells as an example, commenting that studying them may help scientists to stop cancer once... (full context)
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George Gey begins sending Henrietta’s cells out to a variety of scientists who want to use them for cancer research.... (full context)
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Rebecca explains why Henrietta’s cells are so precious: because they allow “scientists to perform experiments that would have been... (full context)
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Although HeLa is spreading, Gey doesn’t mention Henrietta or her cells in the press, so the general public doesn’t learn about his innovation.... (full context)
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...new cells every few days. Because of this, by 1951, when George Gey begins growing Henrietta’s cells, the idea of immortal cells is thought of as distasteful, even racist, and is... (full context)
Chapter 8: A Miserable Specimen
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In early June, Henrietta begins to tell her doctors that the cancer is spreading, but they assert that she... (full context)
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Rebecca returns to Henrietta’s medical records, which show that she returned to Hopkins complaining of discomfort, but was told... (full context)
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Up until now, only Sadie, Margaret, and Day know that Henrietta is sick. Now everyone knows, however, and neighbors can hear Henrietta’s cries of pain from... (full context)
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As radiation continues to burn her skin and her pain becomes even worse, Henrietta arrives at Hopkins on August 8 and says that she wants to stay there. A... (full context)
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“There is no record” that George Gey visited Henrietta in the hospital or talked to her about her cells. Yet one of Gey’s colleagues,... (full context)
Chapter 9: Turner Station
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Rebecca relates the history of Turner Station, explaining that in the forties, when Henrietta first arrived, “the town was booming.” By the end of WWII, though, more and more... (full context)
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...Speed who owns a grocery store and has created a foundation meant to build a Henrietta Lacks museum. When Rebecca arrives at the address of the grocery, however, she finds only... (full context)
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...Courtney herself warmly welcomes Rebecca. When Courtney hears that Rebecca has come to talk about Henrietta Lacks, however, she becomes terrified, asking if she’s come from “Mr. Cofield.” Rebecca tries to... (full context)
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...at the local public library, where a now-excited Courtney tells Rebecca that “February first is Henrietta Lacks day here in Baltimore county.” She is still working on the museum, despite “the... (full context)
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Rebecca watches the video: a BBC documentary about Henrietta called The Way of All Flesh. It begins with melodramatic narration and footage of a... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Other Side of the Tracks
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...man comes out to ask Rebecca if she’s lost. She asks if he’s heard of Henrietta, and he responds that he’s named Cootie, and that he’s Henrietta’s first cousin. He explains... (full context)
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...still prefers to use his outhouse. Cootie goes into his bedroom to find papers about Henrietta that he’s hidden under his mattress. He laments the fact that “other countries” are buying... (full context)
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Cootie reminisces about Henrietta, whom he remembers as cheerful and loving. He marvels at how her cells have multiplied,... (full context)
Chapter 11: “The Devil of Pain Itself”
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By September 1951, cancer has taken over Henrietta’sbody. She must receive constant blood transfusions because her kidneys aren’t filtering toxins out of her... (full context)
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Late September in 1951, a doctor gives Henrietta a heavy dose of morphine and orders all other treatment to cease. Henrietta wakes up... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Storm
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Although there’s no obituary for Henrietta, the Gey lab hears news of her death quickly. Her body is put in the... (full context)
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...tissue for George Gey at the autopsy. The pathologist samples from almost every organ in Henrietta’sbody, as well as saving pieces of her tumors. As she watches Gey work, Mary is... (full context)
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Days later, a train takes Henrietta from Baltimore to Clover in a cheap coffin. The Clover undertaker drives Henrietta’s coffin into... (full context)
Chapter 13: The HeLa Factory
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Soon after Henrietta’s death, researchers begin to plan for a massive operation that will produce trillions of HeLa... (full context)
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...George Gey and a colleague from the NFIP advisory committee named William Scherer try infecting Henrietta’s cells with polio. As it happens, HeLa is in fact more susceptible to the virus... (full context)
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...cells are available for sale, and any scientist can buy them for ten dollars. Although Henrietta’s cells are cancerous, they function similarly to normal cells, and react to many stimuli in... (full context)
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...their research in cellular cloning. Rebecca explains that HeLa did not grow from one of Henrietta’scells, but from a cluster of tumorous cells. Different “cells often behave differently, even if they’re... (full context)
Chapter 14: Helen Lane
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Rebecca explains that considering how many people knew Henrietta’s name, it was impossible that the info wouldn’t be leaked eventually. On November 2, 1953,... (full context)
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...write an article about HeLa. Gey replies that he will not allow him to publish Henrietta’sname. Berg fires back that the article will not be interesting without Henrietta’s identity. Rebecca explains... (full context)
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...what he should do. TeLinde replies that the story can still be “interesting” without releasing Henrietta’s name. Gey responds to Berg saying that the article could still work with a false... (full context)
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...says that he must approve the final article and that the magazine must not include Henrietta’s“personal story or full name.” In May 1954, Davidson writes about cell culturing, saying that it... (full context)
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...Gey created a pseudonym on purpose in order to keep journalists off the scent of Henrietta’sidentity. If this was the aim, Rebecca says, it worked; from the fifties until the seventies,... (full context)
Chapter 15: “Too Young to Remember”
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The narrative jumps back to the 1950s. After Henrietta’s funeral, cousins from Clover and Turner Station help to care for her family. While Day... (full context)
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...from Galen to Day, while others believe that she is trying to get back at Henrietta, whom she hated, by torturing her children. (full context)
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Ethel starves Henrietta’s children, waking them at dawn and forcing them to do chores. In the summers, she... (full context)
Chapter 16: “Spending Eternity in the Same Place”
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During Rebecca’sfirst visit with Cootie, he tells her that no one ever talks about Henrietta. He muses about how strange it is that “her cells…lived longer than her memory,” and... (full context)
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When Cliff learns that Rebecca is writing a book about Henrietta, he brings her to the now-dilapidated house where Henrietta was born. He remembers how “nice”... (full context)
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Cliff expresses confusion about Henrietta’s cells. He knows that it’s amazing that her cells are still alive, and that her... (full context)
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Rebecca explores Henrietta’sfamily history: she had a great-great-grandmother who was a slave named Mourning. A white man, John... (full context)
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...Lacks, the oldest white Lackses. They are distant cousins both to each other, and to Henrietta and Day. When Rebecca mentions Henrietta, however, they deny any connection with her, saying that... (full context)
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Rebecca visits Henrietta’s cousin Gladys, who mentions Lillian,Henrietta’syoungest sibling. In the last letter she sent to the family,... (full context)
Chapter 17: Illegal, Immoral, and Deplorable
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...test these theories using HeLa, injecting cancer patients with doses of HeLa to see whether Henrietta’scancer will spread. He tells the patients that he is testing their immune systems. Tumors begin... (full context)
Chapter 21: Night Doctors
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...talks as he cooks, reminiscing “about life down in the country.” When Rebecca asks about Henrietta, Lawrence only says, “She was pretty,” before moving on. Rebecca asks about her several more... (full context)
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Lawrence tears up as he describes Henrietta’scells growing all over the world. He asks Rebecca to explain what exactly Henrietta’s cells did:... (full context)
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...feet. The doctors have recommended amputation, but Day is still spooked by the procedures that Henrietta experienced, so he’s refused. Sonny, who needs an angioplasty, feels the same. (full context)
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...that Deborah doesn’t want to talk to anyone. When the interview begins, Day only discusses Henrietta’s death, insisting that he never gave permission for doctors to keep her cells, and that... (full context)
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...so important to science, why can’t we get health insurance?” Bobbette adds that Hopkins took Henrietta’s cells without her consent, and expresses anger at Dr. Gey. (full context)
Chapter 22: “The Fame She So Richly Deserves”
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...continues to decline. Not long before death, he tells Margaret Gey that she can release Henrietta’sname, but she never does. He dies in November 1970. (full context)
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...in order to pay homage to Gey. They write that HeLa has ensured immortality for Henrietta, and praise George Gey for his legacy. This is the fist time that Henrietta’s real... (full context)
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...the cancer virus; it turns out, however, that the cells they’ve found actually originated from Henrietta. This finding comes from a scientist named Walter Nelson-Rees, the director of cell culture at... (full context)
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...news of the Russian cell contamination breaks, newspapers begin reporting on the problem. Interest in Henrietta reemerges, but she is always misidentified as Helen Larsen or Helen Lane. People begin to... (full context)
Chapter 23: “It’s Alive”
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...he’s been working with a cell culture in his lab originating from a woman named Henrietta Lacks. Bobbette replies that Henrietta Lacks was her mother-in-law, but that she’s been dead for... (full context)
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...the Tuskegee syphilis study, and begins to panic, thinking that researchers will soon come for Henrietta’s children and grandchildren. Bobbette returns home, yelling to Lawrence that part of Henrietta is still... (full context)
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...how to stop HeLa contamination, they realize that if they find genetic markers specific to Henrietta, they will be able to find out which cells are Henrietta’s, and which are not.... (full context)
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...Lackses. Day believes that they want to test the children for the cancer that killed Henrietta. Hsu, however, says that she didn’t promise any such thing. Instead, McKusick and Hsu want... (full context)
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...Susan Hsu are trying to give the Lackses cancer. She begins asking Day questions about Henrietta’s death, and his answers only make her more suspicious. Eventually, a researcher from McKusick’s office... (full context)
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Deborah meets McKusick when she goes to Hopkins to give blood. McKusick tells her that “Henrietta has made an important contribution to science.” Deborah begins to ask him questions, wanting to... (full context)
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...tested for cancer. She wants Rebecca to tell the Lackses that she is grateful to Henrietta, and that they should be proud. She adds that she could learn even more today... (full context)
Chapter 24: “Least They Can Do”
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...until they meet Michal Rogers, the Rolling Stone reporter. During his initial research, he gets Henrietta’sname from Walter Nelson-Rees. Soon after, Rogers is sitting in the same Baltimore hotel in which... (full context)
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Rogers tries to interview the Lackses about Henrietta, but instead they begin to ask him questions of their own. They ask Rogers what... (full context)
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...money off of the cells. They become certain that George Gey and Johns Hopkins stole Henrietta’s cells for profit. Rebecca reveals that George Gey never made money off of HeLa. In... (full context)
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...where she expresses despair and frustration about the terrible things that she believes happened to Henrietta. (full context)
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...Mike Rogers’s article is published, is the first time that the general population learns about Henrietta’s identity, let alone that she was black. Many different magazines, some of them with a... (full context)
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...McKusick and Susan Hsu publish their research on the Lacks family, creating a map of Henrietta’s DNA that will identify HeLa cells in culture. In the present day, Rebecca explains, a... (full context)
Chapter 26: Breach of Privacy
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...jobs. In 1980, she marries a mechanic called James Pullum. Eventually, Deborah tells him about Henrietta. He replies that the family should hire a lawyer. (full context)
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...tries to help Zakariyya, however, his son refuses him. He hates his father for burying Henrietta in an unmarked grave and for leaving the Lacks children with Ethel. (full context)
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Deborah learns that she can request Henrietta’s medical records from Hopkins, but she delays doing so out of fear. In 1985, a... (full context)
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...of the book and begins to read about her mother. Gold has gotten access to Henrietta’s medical records and the famous photo of her, despite the fact that no one from... (full context)
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...with Victor McKusick and Howard Jones, and believes that Jones gave him the picture of Henrietta that he used in the book. Jones, however, doesn’t remember speaking to Gold, and denies... (full context)
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...a journalist to publish medical records, but wonders why Gold didn’t attempt to speak to Henrietta’s family. When she asks, he says that he tried to get in touch, but was... (full context)
Chapter 27: The Secret of Immortality
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In 1984, researchers begin to understand why Henrietta’s cells are immortal. A virologist named Harald zur Hausen discovers an STI called Human Papilloma... (full context)
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In Henrietta’s case, HPV inserted itself into her DNA and turned off a gene that suppresses tumors.... (full context)
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Henrietta’s family, on the other hand, has many theories. Her sister Gladys believes that the cancer... (full context)
Chapter 28: After London
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A producer at the BBC named Adam Curtis decides to make a documentary about Henrietta in 1996—the same documentary that Rebecca eventually watches. Deborah believes that Curtis will make the... (full context)
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...in Louisiana. After becoming the first in his family to attend school, he learned about Henrietta while working for George Gey. Finally, in October 1996 at the Morehouse School of Medicine,... (full context)
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...about HeLa, Speed, along with a sociologist named Barbara Wyche, begins agitating for recognition for Henrietta. They contact multiple branches of government, as well as Terry Sharrer, a Smithsonian Museum curator.... (full context)
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...Speed found an “African-American health museum in Turner Station.” The two begin to create “the Henrietta Lacks Health History Museum Foundation, Inc.,” and attempt to publicize their organization. At first, Deborah... (full context)
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...crowd grows angrier, falling silent only when Deborah asks Mary to tell the story about Henrietta’stoenail polish. (full context)
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Wyche tries to get the state to acknowledge Henrietta, and her efforts pay off. The Maryland State Senate thanks Henrietta, and Representative Robert Ehrlich... (full context)
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...contacts Deborah, asserting that she needs a lawyer, that she should copyright the name of Henrietta Lacks, and that she should sue Hopkins. Cofield begins researching Henrietta’s records at Hopkins, telling... (full context)
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...Cofield throws a fit, and then files “a lawsuit against Deborah, Lawrence, Courtney Speed, the Henrietta Lacks Health History Museum Foundation, and a long list of Hopkins officials.”Cofield begins intimidating the... (full context)
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...reporters begin contacting Deborah. Deborah doesn’t have answers, and decides to request a copy of Henrietta’s medical records from Hopkins—as well as records for Elsie. She also meets with Kidwell, who... (full context)
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...Pattillo gets in touch with Deborah to tell her that a reporter—Rebecca—wants to write about Henrietta. (full context)
Chapter 29: A Village of Henriettas
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...wants to receive “monetary satisfaction.” At last Deborah calls Rebecca: she demands that Rebecca get Henrietta’s name right, that she mention Elsie, and that she help Deborah find out “what happened... (full context)
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...the technique also “creates a beautiful mosaic of colored chromosomes.” Lengauer has done this with Henrietta’s chromosomes, and has framed a large print for the Lackses, in order to express how... (full context)
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...not ready yet. She once again expresses dismay that “white folks” got rich off of Henrietta’s cells while the Lackses remain poor. (full context)
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Deborah then shows Rebecca all of the research that she’s done on Henrietta. Within the papers is a Mother’s Day card that Deborah has written to Henrietta, as... (full context)
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...first place. The two women grow friendly, but when Rebecca reaches for a file containing Henrietta’s medical records, Deborah becomes paranoid and hostile. (full context)
Chapter 30: Zakariyya
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...After ignoring the group, he asks to read the article that Rebecca has written about Henrietta. He tells Rebecca that he believes his birth during Henrietta’s illness to be a miracle,... (full context)
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Rebecca describes Zakariyya’s tiny apartment, in which he’s hung pictures of Henrietta and Elsie. He expresses a belief that Henrietta’s cancer damaged him mentally, while Deborah holds... (full context)
Chapter 31: Hela, Goddess of Death
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...Deborah receives a mysterious call telling her not to trust any white people asking about Henrietta. Panicked, she tells Rebecca that they can’t speak anymore, but then quickly changes her mind.... (full context)
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...effort to gain Deborah’s trust, Rebecca begins sending Deborah every article she can find about Henrietta. Deborah begins to feel maternal towards Rebecca, and even dresses in “reporter clothes” when they... (full context)
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...Research, Franklin Salisbury Jr., calls Deborah to ask if she will accept a plaque in Henrietta’s honor. Deborah is “ecstatic,” but paranoid about the dangers her appearance may bring. She tells... (full context)
Chapter 32: “All That’s My Mother”
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When Deborah is finally ready to see Henrietta’s cells, Day is too ill to come, Sonny has to work, and Lawrence refuses to... (full context)
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...cells multiplying, before explaining basic cell biology to the two. He explains that DNA determined Henrietta’sappearance, as well as her cancer, but adds that Deborah has not inherited the disease from... (full context)
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Christoph mentions that he believes Hopkins “screwed up” in the way it treated Henrietta. He tells the shocked Deborah that he believes Henrietta’s story is deeply important, and adds... (full context)
Chapter 33: The Hospital for the Negro Insane
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...Rebecca repeatedly that when they stop for the night, the reporter may finally look at Henrietta’s medical records. That night, she drops the records off in Rebecca’s hotel room, adding, “Knock... (full context)
Chapter 34: The Medical Records
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...through decades of Lacks papers, eventually finding records from when Deborah was born, and when Henrietta was first admitted to the hospital for her cancer treatments. Deborah alternates among joy, despair,... (full context)
Chapter 35: Soul Cleansing
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...to take a photo of her with the two pictures of Elsie in front of Henrietta’s grave. They then go to visit the elderly Gladys’s house, where Deborah announces that she... (full context)
Chapter 36: Heavenly Bodies
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...again. Gary has her read a passage in the Bible out loud, telling her that Henrietta was chosen to do the Lord’s work, and that HeLa is her “spiritual body.” For... (full context)
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...the division between religion and science, realizing that for the Lackses, a religious explanation of Henrietta’simmortality makes much more sense than a scientific one. She and Gary continue to read Bible... (full context)
Chapter 37: “Nothing to Be Scared About”
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...become ill. Deborah’s brothers, meanwhile, begin telling her not to speak at all and demanding Henrietta’s records. Alfred Jr., Deborah’s son, is charged with attempted murder, and one of Deborah’s nephews... (full context)
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...in front of the congregation, asking her to come up and tell the story of Henrietta. The nervous Rebecca does so, talking about Henrietta as Deborah weeps. Pullum explains that he... (full context)
Chapter 38: The Long Road to Clover
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...a heart attack. Sonny has cut off a lock of her hair to keep with Henrietta’s and Elsie’s. He tells Rebecca that his sister is with the two of them now. (full context)
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...said that she would be glad once she died because she would get to see Henrietta. After watching the interview herself, Deborah had told Rebecca that, “Heaven looks just like Clover,... (full context)
Deborah's Voice
Rebecca includes a transcript of Deborah’s voice, as Deborah explains that her mother’s name was Henrietta Lacks, and that her cells are still living today in the form of HeLa, which... (full context)