Found Poem by Gabby Llopiz


Through this found poem, using “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, I wanted to portray the journey that this woman went through during her treatments at the hospital. This is an extremely controversial topic, although the HeLa cells are extremely important to modern medicine, the miscommunication through the whole medical process is a true issue. I borrowed some of the repetition from the book and incorporated that into the poem, because it stressed the issue and importance of her story. This is an ethical issue, just like what we talked about through narrative medicine and our study of the Hippocratic Oath.

Narrative medicine teaches us to listen to our patients and their stories. We have to make sure that we understand everything that the patient is feeling and can read in between the lines. In return, it is extremely important that the patient understands everything that is going on with their body and their treatment. If there is a language barrier or just terms that the regular, everyday person does not understand, it is the job of the doctor to make them understand. We saw this misunderstanding throughout Henrietta’s story, as she was not aware of what getting her treatment meant. She thought she would be able to have children after the treatment of her cancer, but the doctors did not clearly tell her that her treatment would leave her infertile. This is something that happens in the medical community often, the words and terms that doctors use don’t make sense to us who don’t have a medical background. They are ultimately speaking a different language to us and expecting that we will understand. If questions are asked, they would be able to answer, but sometimes we don’t know what questions to ask.

This poem is meant to show the importance of Henrietta Lack’s story and the HeLa cell. It is an interesting way to look at her journey and appreciate her life and all that her cells did for modern medicine. I personally was unaware that there was a story like this about the HeLa cells, I never thought about it. This story is important to be publicized and educate people about what happened and how to prevent things like this in the future. Communication is everything in the medical world and we need to work on communicating terms in a better way. A patient needs to understand what is going on in their body so they can make decisions about their treatment etc. I hope through this poem I am able to convey the emotions and importance of Henrietta’s story.

Henrietta’s Story

By: Gabby Llopiz, Quotes from “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot


“HeLa,” for Henrietta and Lacks

Sixth or seventh grade education; housewife and mother of five.

The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks

She went straight to the waiting room of the gynecology clinic, a wide-open space, empty but for rows of long straight-backed benches that looked like church pews.

Jones got her biopsy results from the pathology lab: “Epidermoid carcinoma of the cervix, Stage I.”

The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks

But first—though no one had told Henrietta that TeLinde was collecting samples or asked if she wanted to be a donor

She simply went on with her day as if nothing had happened, which was just like her—no sense upsetting anyone over something she could deal with herself.

The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks

They were sure Henrietta’s cells would die just like all the others.

Henrietta’s cells weren’t merely surviving, they were growing with mythological intens- ity.

The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks

Citation: Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: Crown, 2010. Print.


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