We must never forget

When I first was given this book I was first struck by the beautiful black and white picture of a very lovely African American woman, that seemed to be in the prime of her life. As I opened the book and started to read I discovered that I would be crying through most of it. My heart still hurts today for this little known woman that has contributed so much to our health in so many wondrous and miraculous ways; even as she and her family was treated in the most disrespectful and horrific way. This is the story of the HELA CELLS written by Rebecca Sklott I dare you to try and keep a dry eye when you read:

About The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance.

Soon to be made into an HBO movie by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball, this New York Times bestseller takes readers on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers filled with HeLa cells, from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia, to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. It’s a story inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we’re made of.

Women are hurting out here

One of my duties I feel as a cancer survivor is to go out into the community and share my story with as many people as possible.

I did this very thing, last night in a place that for some is filled with hopelessness and despair even as it also saves women and their children from a cold night on the street. What was this place? It was the Women’s Mission and when I first walked in I was filled with such empathy and compassion for these women.

And once I began to tell my story and as I looked out into the audience into the faces of the women, I saw fear, shame, hopelessness and tears! But I also saw hope began to grow and smiles began to appear as they heard the message that they were “not alone” and there was help for them.

I even received a letter from one of the women that wanted to convey how my testimony gave her hope and courage to go on even though she was homeless and jobless. I kept that note to always remind me why I do what I do. It is not about me but it is about the many hurting women out in the community that often times do not have a clue where to turn or whom to ask for help.

Our fight is far from being over and as long as there is disease and un-equality in the health care system we must stand up and say that ” WE CARE!”