The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a novel written by Rebecca Skloot that explains in detail both the science behind Henrietta's case and the tribulation her family suffered. Henrietta Lacks was an impoverished black woman whom contracted cervical cancer through a sexually transmitted disease known as the Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV. Mrs. Lacks was in need of radiation treatment, during which doctors collected a specimen of her cancerous cervix cells without her knowledge or consent. Although Henrietta's life was eventually taken by the cancer, her cancerous cells continued to reproduce and not die off, unlike any other cells the doctors had collected. These HeLa cells, as they were named, became a breakthrough in science and medicine. Yet, the Lacks family continues their lives in destitution, oblivious to what Henrietta had done for the world.
The story of Henrietta Lacks and her cells provoke a question that has been answered in conflicting ways. That question being, why do her cells behave so adversely? Science will say that she had a genetic abnormality that allowed her cells to regenerate their losses each time they replicated. The Lacks family, however, was never educated in the ways of science. Therefore, this answer does not make sense to them. That is why they came up with their own conclusion, Henrietta was an angel. The family believed that Henrietta's immortal soul, promised to her by Jesus, is alive within those cells. The cells have helped so many people that the Lacks family considers Henrietta an angel sent by God to help the world. Both science and theology attempt to understand the cause of the never ending reproduction of the HeLa cells.
This question and its respectful responses are a perfect example of how this world is interconnected. Being human and Christian in this world is what allows a theory like that of Henrietta's cells being her immortalized soul to be recognized rather than ostracized. The strength of the Lacks family in their faith is an inspiration to all of Christian descent. Being human is what allows people to disagree, yet acknowledge other points-of-view. As this tranquility between humans is allowed to develop, there may be no need to debate our beliefs. In a world where people are able to coexist with those who do not agree with them, dissent might no longer be expressed as long as they reach a consensus that there is no one ultimate truth.
As I read this book I became very torn as to why Henrietta's cells were so unique. I looked at the scientific solution and the Lacks family's explanation and found logic and validity in both perspectives. It was after much pondering that I realized I did not have to choose. Being of a world in which humans are connected, we don't have to agree with one side or another. We may simply acknowledge both theories and even theorize for ourselves. All answers can be taken as opinion with the open-mindedness that this world has the potential to offer.