Deborah’s blood pressure and blood sugar levels were so high that she could easily have had another stroke. Because the doctor told her to avoid stress, she stopped coming on research trips with Skloot, but asked that Skloot call her with updates.
Deborah decided that she wanted to learn more about science and signed up for adult education classes. Skloot worried about Deborah’s health as the Research for Cancer Foundation Conference approached, but Deborah insisted she was okay.
Right before the conference, Zakariyya and Lawrence told Deborah not to talk to anyone. Sonny told them to let her make her own choices, but Lawrence demanded Deborah give him all of Henrietta’s records that she had gathered.
The conference was scheduled for September 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks shut down D.C., and the Research for Cancer Foundation had to cancel the conference.
Five days later, Deborah had a stroke in church, but fortunately made a complete recovery. The stroke increased Deborah’s determination to learn more about science. Unfortunately, Deborah didn’t have the money to cover course expenses and couldn’t continue her studies. She decided to focus on making sure her grandchildren and grand nieces and nephews got an education.
Two months later, Skloot attended the baptism of Sonny’s granddaughter at Pullum’s church. Pullum brought Skloot to the pulpit and asked her to tell the congregation about her work on Henrietta and her cells. Pullum acknowledged that the Lacks children would probably never benefit from their mother’s cells but at least the world would know her name. He said her grandchildren would have to take inspiration from Henrietta and try to change the world.