Who Was Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks


“Henrietta Pleasant Lacks” grew up on a farm in rural Clover, Virginia. After Henrietta married David Lacks, they moved to Baltimore, Maryland in 1943. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks went to Johns Hopkins Hospital after experiencing severe abdominal pains. After being tested, she found out that she had an advanced case of cervical cancer. The doctors at Johns Hopkins were looking for human cells that could grow outside the body.

So in addition to treating Henrietta, they took a piece of her tumor tissue and performed a culture to see if the cells would continue to grow. They were amazed that the cells did indeed grow. The tumor tissue was used by researcher “George Gey” who developed the first human cell line known as the “HeLa cells”, and six decades later, they are still growing.

Henrietta’s cells were essential in many scientific developments, from the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, breakthroughs and landmark research in HIV, HPV vaccine, tuberculosis, to testing her cells in the very first space mission to see what would happen to human cells in zero gravity. Other discoveries achieved, at least in part by using her cells include vitro fertilization, cloning, gene mapping, dental products, tests for human sensitivity to products such as glue, tape, cosmetics and chemicals.

HeLa Crab

HeLa Crab

Observing “HeLa cells” also provided a basis for much of what science knows about the behavior and division of human cells. With her cells being able to reproduce an entire generation every 24 hours, over 80.000 research articles and more than 17,000 patents involving “HeLa cells”, the knowledge and achievements gained from this discovery have helped  to save  millions of people lives.

With this being “National Breast Cancer Awareness Month”, learn more about the women behind the cells that have  help saved so many  cancer survivors. Her oldest son Lawrence Lacks and his Bobbette Lacks,  for the first time decided to tell their story in this short memoir, that will  give you a personal perspective of who his mother  really was.

You can find it on Amazon: “HeLa Family Stories”.

Please Click My Affiliate Link Below To Buy:

HeLa Family Stories: Lawrence and Bobbette (A Short Memoir)

Enjoy the rest of your day!

Hope Lacks





  Hela cell, HeLa Family Stories, Cancer, Polio, Medical breakthroughs

3 Responses

  1. It’s a very personal, touching and heartbreaking memoir of cousin Lawrence’s own life and memories of his mother, the late Henrietta Pleasant-Lacks. While reading the part about Henrietta’s wake and funeral, I remembered my mother Elizabeth Pleasant-Foster who attended the funeral, telling me her account that on the way to the cemetery, the sky became very dark, it thundered and lightening flashed across the sky and then hit a tree that fell right in front of the hearse carrying Henrietta to her final resting place and some the men in the processional cars had to get out and move the fallen tree so they could continue on to the cemetery!!!

    I would suggest that everyone reads Lawrence and Bobbette Lacks’s memoir and I can’t wait to continue reading more of what he remembers first-hand about this mother and what the family experienced after her passing into immortality!!!

  2. Hope Lacks says:

    Thank you so much Joyce for sharing your mother’s memories with us!

  1. October 1, 2015

    […] the breakthrough creation of the HeLa cell line, more than 80,000 research articles and 17,000 patents have been published involving their use. Among so many firsts, it was HeLa cells that were shot […]

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