Happy Black History Month! Introducing...Henrietta Lacks (Hela).
Henrietta Lacks wife and mother of five is an immortal being who’s name consistently is ignored and unheard of. Henrietta was an African American tobacco farmer who’s cells have and are being used without her families consent to create vaccines treating diseases like polio and the chicken pox, whilst aiding in the production of in vitro fertilization, cloning, and a bunch more. The cells known as Hela cells in modern medicine were taken from a tumor in Henrietta’s abdomen during and after cervical cancer took over her body. Though her cells were a breakthrough in medicine, being first to survive outside of the human body, as well as multiplying at record speed; they were taken illegally and her family had to find out through years of half answers.
The doctors that treated Henrietta at Johns Hopkins hospital, turned her cells over to George Otto Grey, a cancer researcher at John Hopkins. Instead of identifying the source, they claimed that they were donated from a Austrian-American actress who was fighting cancer.
The cells have been sent to space for testing the endurance of cancer cells, and aided to transform the careers of thousands of researchers and doctors. The irony of the magic is that her family remained poor and unanswered for many years to come. They struggled to make ends meet, maintain health insurance, and get Henrietta the acknowledgements that she so deserves.
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To be truly happy, you need a clear sense of direction. You need a commitment to something bigger and more important than yourself. You need to feel that your life stands for something, that you are somehow making a valuable contribution to your world.
“I just don’t see much that Islam has really contributed to society” said my dad.
Really, dad, I don’t suppose you’d see much without your glasses huh. And how is that coffee you’re drinking? Nice pen, too. Do you like your job as an accountant? I’ll bet it’d be a lot harder without NUMBERS, you think?
Not everyone will do ‘everything’ for you. But everyone will do 'something’ for you. Don’t belittle their effort. Appreciate their little yet valuable contribution to your life, happiness and progress. Practice to be grateful.
I recently made an online donation to support a co-worker’s fundraiser. I opted to post the donation anonymously to avoid other co-workers thinking I am a suck-up. And because I prefer privacy. The whole decision making process - if it could really be called that - led me recall a childhood memory:
My grandmother and I overheard a neighborhood woman explain to her very disappointed son that he could not play team ball because they could not afford the equipment. (The boy was by far the most talented on the field.) My grandmother did nothing then, but she went the next day and bought the uniform and equipment for the boy. And then she packed it neatly into a box and left it outside their door when the folks were away.
As a kid, I was confused why she hid her actions. To me, that meant she must be doing something wrong and I could not understand what. So I asked if she was doing something wrong. Her response was, “No. If I thought it was wrong, I would not do it.”
So my next question was if she was embarrassed. (As a kid, that’s the order of hiding, right? If it’s wrong or embarrassing, try to keep it secret.) Grandmother replied, “No. I am not embarrassed; and this way, neither will they be embarrassed.”