Study Guide

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Chapter 37

By Rebecca Skloot

Chapter 37

"Nothing to Be Scared About" (2001)

  • It turns out that Deborah isn't just suffering from hives. She has extremely high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
  • She'd almost had a stroke from the stress of learning about her sister Elsie's life and death at Crownsville. Now she has to rest.
  • So Skloot only tells her the positive stuff that she learned in her research.
  • Deborah's also supposed to give a speech at the National Foundation for Cancer Research conference.
  • But Deborah doesn't seem to be able to avoid stress. She's decided to go back to school so that she can understand more of the science behind the HeLa cells.
  • Then her brothers start fussing at her about talking to people about Henrietta. Her imprisoned son Alfred is about to go on trial for some serious crimes, and her nephew is also in trouble.
  • Then September 11th happens.
  • The conference was going to be held in Washington, D.C. Deborah is scared by the chaos.
  • She's also upset because the Henrietta Lacks conference was cancelled and not rescheduled.
  • A few days later, Deborah has a stroke at church. Her grandson Davon keeps her conscious on the way to the hospital by slapping her face. That saves her life.
  • Deborah recovers fully, but she's a lot weaker. But she's still determined to help Skloot with her research.
  • Not long after, Skloot attends the baptism of Sonny's granddaughter. During the service, Deborah's husband James asks Skloot to speak about the HeLa cells.
  • Skloot is uncomfortable, but she does it. James joins in and tells the congregation that the focus is now on the next generation and how they'll all know what their great-grandmother did for the world.

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