Henrietta Lack’s life was a shortone; however, long after her death, she continues to make a great impact in theworld of science with her cancer cells, which outlived her.
Being the origin ofthe “immortal” HeLa cells, Henrietta’s birth was the first milestone in thedevelopment of the HeLa cell line. Therefore, had her life not proceeded as itdid, many scientifically and medically relevant events might have never takenplace.Daughter to Johnny Pleasant and Eliza Lacks Pleasant, LorettaPleasant was born in Virginia on the 18th of August 1920. Loretta,who went on to be called “Henrietta Lacks” for unknown reasons, was one of tensibling who lived together in the remote town of Roanoke. After Eliza’s deathin 1924, Johnny Pleasant moved his family to Clover, Virginia, where their relativeshad been cultivating tobacco for decades. As the siblings were distributedamongst different family members, Henrietta moved in with Tommy and ChloeLacks, her grandparents. DS1 DS2 In her new home, Henrietta met hercousin David Lacks (1915-2002), who would later go on to be her husband.
Their sonLawrence Pleasant (1935-1955) and daughter Lucile Elsie Pleasant (1939-1955),who suffered from an intellectual disability, were born out of wedlock. At theage of 21, Henrietta married David on April 10th, 1941. DS3 After the tobacco farm stoppedgenerating enough income for the family, Henrietta and her family moved toBaltimore. Near this city, the steel industry had begun to bloom as a result ofWWII. Thefamily joined an African-American community at Sparrows Point in 1942, wherethey began working at the steel plant. DS4 Here, Henrietta’s final children were born: David Jr. (1947-),Deborah(1949-) and Joe (1950-)(Watson, 2010)DS5 .
Henriettanever saw her youngest children grow up, as a malignant tumor was discovered inher cervix whose metastasized cells led to her death in 1951DS6 .