The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks–Read it!!

  • The book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot, Dear Aunt Joan, Dear Aunt Joan gripped me from beginning to end. While reading it, I was in the midst of a cancer diagnosis and caught between two battling oncologists different perspectives concerning how my dormant illness should be treated(2006). My confirmed oncologist insisted on a “wait and see” approach, while the other felt I should undergo immediate treatment of R-CHOP(chemotherapy). Later, reading medical documentation, I zoomed in on the statement that I would eventually be placed in a study group. I questioned this placement in a study group, and my oncologist denied this fact.????? Fast forward. Over the years, I experienced pain in my spine, shoulder, and ribs, but continued my life. In the fifth year(2011), the pain increased and I knew I needed help. However, my oncologist felt I was exaggerating and would not take my cries for help seriously. Only after emailing him photos of perspiraton drenched pajamas and a copy of the email to the American Consulate in Strasbourg, France, did he confirm an appointment in his office. Thereafter, he quickly arranged a TEP-Scan, and results indicated that the once dormant cancer had transformed into an aggressive form. I then changed my oncologist. The new oncologist informed me that my type of illness is never treated only with rituximab, but with R-Chop. Shocked at the reality that I may have indeed been a guinea pig placed in a study group with the first oncologist, I had to shelve my anger in order to prepare for the urgent arduous chemotherapy and suggested autologous bone marrow transplant. Two operations were necessary for the extraction of cells from my bone marrow. I felt as if life was drained from me(both times). In this weakened and fragile state, a nurse then told me that the next phase of my journey consisted of an intensification of chemotherapy, a three week stay in an isolated section of the hospital, and thereafter, my cleansed bone marrow cells would be reintroduced into my body(autologous bone marrow transplant). My oncologist had not informed me of the specifics of this procedure. He explained that it was simply like a blood transfusion. Yeah, right! I was furious. I penned an email that he will never forget. I had zero trust in the medical field. I had an intense talk with God Almighty, and decided that I WOULD have a testimony. After the sixth chemo session, I stopped……everything! Against the wishes of my oncologist and his team, I decided against the bone marrow transplant. I went to South Italy, visited countless churches, was invited to sing gospel in Chiesa Madre(Mother Church) in Manduria, Italy….and prayed relentlessly. By the grace of God and additional alternative medicine of mistle (viscum), that I continue until today, I am in remission. But, I wonder? What has become of my extracted bone marrow? How is it being used? Since reading the book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, I can’t help but wonder if my bone marrow is being used experimentally(normally, bone marrow is kept for ten years, I have been told???) But, kept, how? Untouched, or are samples leaked away for other purposes? Sisters, read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. If faced with a health challenge as I, do your research! Get more than two expert opinoins. Demand transparency in all phases of your treatment. Do not allow fear to shelve your instinct and intelligence. It is your body, your health, your life!!! Kudos to Oprah Winfrey for transitioning this piece of literature(that deserves the status required reading) to film .

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About whenquiet

A child of God, opinionated, survivor, eloquent, elegant, exquisite, and humble, loving life and shining light to those who are in the shadow.
This entry was posted in African American History, african american women, black voices, cancer challenges, Contemplation, health, indigenous women, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks–Read it!!

  1. Such a great post!! I am so very sorry for all your troubles, but thank you for sharing this. It has been enlightening and is tucked away in case I should ever need it.

  2. whenquiet says:

    aprons and apricots..Thanks for reading and thanks for your comment. I keep pushing on! 🙂

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