Atlanta’s own Dr. Jacqueline Walters, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Comprehensive Women’s OB-GYN and two-time breast cancer survivor, moderated the panel discussion following the private screening of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” at the World of Coca-Cola Library in Atlanta. The ladies of the panel and the HBO film shared specific points on what Henrietta Lacks’ cells truly meant for mankind. One of the best surprises was having Dr. Renée Elise Goldsbury as a special guest and hearing her discuss playing Henrietta Lacks in this HBO film.
The film is based on the true story of Henrietta Lacks, a Black woman whose cervical cancer cells were removed during a biopsy and cultured without her knowledge. Her cells, known by scientists as “HeLa,” went on to play a vital role in medical research, leading to breakthroughs in cancer, herpes, cloning, Parkinson’s, influenza and several types of genetic disorders.
“This story allows us to put a face to the name of Henrietta Lacks,” says Renée Elise Goldsberry, referring to her role as Lacks in the film. “Here’s a woman whose ongoing contributions to medicine have impacted virtually everyone. Her legacy is now being recognized.”
“This year alone, there will be over 12,000 new cases of cervix uteri cancer; proper screening can help find cancer at an early stage and may make it easier to treat,” explained Dr. Jessica Shepherd, OB-GYN and director of minimally invasive gynecology at The University of Illinois at Chicago and one of the panelists of the evening.
The other panelists included Grammy and Tony Award-winning actress Tamika Felder, founder and CEO of Cervivor, a nonprofit cervical cancer advocacy organization, and cervical cancer survivor; and Linda Blount, MPH, president and CEO of The Black Women’s Health Imperative.
Special thanks to the Garner Circle for the invitaion and to Tanika Gray, founder of The White Dress Project and the MAKO Girls, for attending this very informative event on women’s wellness.