Summary: Chapter 8

In June of 1951, Henrietta told her doctors she thought the cancer had returned, but they found nothing wrong with her. In that era, doctors occasionally withheld basic information from patients in order not to upset or confuse them, a practice called “benevolent deception.”

Skloot doesn’t know if Henrietta’s treatment would have differed if she had been a white patient. Black patients often got treatment for cancer at a later stage than white patients, and also sometimes received fewer painkillers. Howard Jones insisted he gave Henrietta the standard treatment for the time.

A few weeks after her doctors told her she was healthy, Henrietta was in excruciating pain. Doctors found an inoperable tumor on her pelvic wall and started a course of radiation therapy to try and ease her pain. Her family thought they were still trying to cure her. Soon, Henrietta could no longer walk and checked into the hospital as an inpatient. Doctors took another cell sample for Gey, but the toxins in her blood prevented these cells from thriving. Day and the children began visiting daily, but the nurses asked Day to stop bringing the children because Henrietta would get too upset when they left.

There is no record of George Gey visiting Henrietta in the hospital or tell her about her cells. One of his colleagues claims that Gey visited Henrietta and told her that her cells would save lives.

Summary: Chapter 9

Sonny agreed to meet with Skloot in Turner Station, but stood her up. In the hotel, Skloot began to read a 1975 article in Rolling Stone about the Lackses, written by a journalist named Michael Rogers, and discovered that he had stayed at the same hotel and tried to contact the Lacks family using the White Pages . Skloot had no luck, but eventually decided to seek out a Turner Station resident named Courtney Speed, who ran a grocery store and was founding a museum dedicated to Henrietta. However, Skloot got lost driving around Turner Station, and she attracted a lot of curious stares as one of the only white people there.

Skloot found the church where community meetings about the museum had taken place, and the reverend offered to take her to Speed’s Grocery to talk to Speed. Speed said she couldn’t talk to Skloot about Henrietta until the family had given permission. Speed explained that progress on the museum had slowed because of a mess with someone named Cofield. She lent Skloot a videotape with a recording of a BBC documentary called “The Way of All Flesh.” It included interviews with some of Henrietta’s Clover relatives, which made Skloot realize she should seek the Lackses in Clover.