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Statue of Henrietta Lacks to replace toppled Robert E. Lee monument in  Virginia

Her 'immortal' cells are estimated to have saved millions of lives.

henrietta lacks
"Henrietta Lacks" by yooperann is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

A Henrietta Lacks mural in Oak Park, Illinois.

Lee Plaza in Roanoke, Virginia, was named for Robert E. Lee, and up until 2020, it was home to a monument to the famed Confederate general. In the racial justice protests of 2020, however, the monument was toppled and then removed. And in 2021, the city council voted to split the renaming of the plaza, with part becoming Freedom Plaza and the section where Lee's monument stood becoming Henrietta Lacks Plaza.

In a move that reflects the nation's ongoing reckoning with its racial history, a statue of Lacks will soon be erected in the city of her birth, right where the Lee monument stood. At an event at the site this week, artist Bryce Cobbs unveiled a full-sized rendering of Lacks, upon which the new statue will be designed.

Henrietta Lacks was a Black American woman and mother of five who was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer in 1951. While she was being treated at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, a doctor snipped cells from her cervix without her knowledge or consent. Lacks died of the aggressive cancer at age 31, but her cells lived on … and on and on, much to the surprise of Dr. George Gey, the researcher who studied them.


Unlike other patients' cells, which had always quickly died in Gey's lab, Lacks' cells doubled every 20 to 24 hours. These "immortal" cells, nicknamed HeLa cells after Lacks' first and last name, changed modern medicine in huge ways. HeLa cells have been—and still are—used to study the effects of toxins, drugs, hormones and viruses on cancer cells, to test the effects of radiation and poisons, to develop vaccines (including the polio and COVID-19 vaccines) and to study the human genome.

The world owes Henrietta Lacks a huge debt of gratitude for the medical breakthroughs her cells have helped humanity accomplish. However, it's also important to acknowledge the injustice that her cells were used without her consent.

In attendance at the art unveiling event were a son and grandson of Henrietta Lacks, both of whom have worked to have her story told and honored. Her grandson Ron Lacks expressed his happiness at the Roanoke event that the plaza project involved the Lacks family and that the organizers of the project had approached them first. The statue design by sculptor Larry Bechtel is set to be unveiled in October 2023.

The replacing of a Confederate monument with a statue of a Black American who contributed to the advancement of humanity feels only fitting. While we can't right historical wrongs, we can at least acknowledge them and make sure the people we choose to celebrate with monuments are deserving of the honor.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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Architectural Digest/Youtube

This house was made with love.

Celebrity home tours are usually a divisive topic. Some find them fun and inspirational. Others find them tacky or out of touch. But this home tour has seemingly brought unanimous joy to all.

“Stranger Things” actor David Harbour and British singer-songwriter Lily Allen, whose Vegas wedding in 2020 came with an Elvis impersonator, gave a tour of their delightfully quirky Brooklyn townhouse for Architectural Digest, and people were absolutely loving it.

For one thing, the house just looks cool. There’s nothing monotone or minimalist about it. No beige to be seen.

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Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

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Health

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to run their YouthLine teen crisis hotline

“Each volunteer gets more than 60 hours of training, and master’s level supervisors are constantly on standby in the room.”

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to man YouthLine teen crisis hotline

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Mental health is a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. Thanks to social media and people being more open about their struggles, the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment appears to be diminishing. But after the social and emotional interruption of teens due the pandemic, the mental health crises among adolescents seem to have jumped to record numbers.

PBS reports that Oregon is "ranked as the worst state for youth mental illness and access to care." But they're attempting to do something about it with a program that trains teenagers to answer crisis calls from other teens. They aren't alone though, as there's a master's level supervisor at the ready to jump in if the call requires a mental health professional.

The calls coming into the Oregon YouthLine can vary drastically, anywhere from relationship problems to family struggles, all the way to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Teens manning the phones are provided with 60 hours of training and are taught to recognize when the call needs to be taken over by the adult supervisor.

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Family

Mom shares her brutal experience with 'hyperemesis gravidarum' and other moms can relate

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe case of morning sickness that can last up until the baby is born and might require medical attention.

@emilyboazman/TikTok

Hyperemesis gravidarum isn't as common as regular morning sickness, but it's much more severe.

Morning sickness is one of the most commonly known and most joked about pregnancy symptoms, second only to peculiar food cravings. While unpleasant, it can often be alleviated to a certain extent with plain foods, plenty of fluids, maybe some ginger—your typical nausea remedies. And usually, it clears up on its own by the 20-week mark. Usually.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes moms experience stomach sickness and vomiting, right up until the baby is born, on a much more severe level.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), isn’t as widely talked about as regular morning sickness, but those who go through it are likely to never forget it. Persistent, extreme nausea and vomiting lead to other symptoms like dehydration, fainting, low blood pressure and even jaundice, to name a few.

Emily Boazman, a mom who had HG while pregnant with her third child, showed just how big of an impact it can make in a viral TikTok.

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The cast of TLC's "Sister Wives."

Dating is hard for just about anyone. But it gets harder as people age because the dating pool shrinks and older people are more selective. Plus, changes in dating trends, online etiquette and fashion can complicate things as well.

“Sister Wives” star Christine Brown is back in the dating pool after ending her “spiritual union” with polygamist Kody Brown and she needs a little help to get back in the swing of things. Christine and Kody were together for more than 25 years and she shared him with three other women, Janelle, Meri and Robyn.

Janelle and Meri have recently announced they’ve separated from Kody. Christine publicly admitted that things were over with Kody in November 2021.

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