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Illness forces author to delay book signing

Best-selling author Rebecca Skloot cancelled her engagement scheduled at The Prizery on Sunday due to illness, Interim Library Director H. L. Deslauriers said Friday afternoon.

The talk, sponsored by the Friends of the Library and made possible through other local donations, had been scheduled for 3 p.m. in the Chastain Theater.

Efforts are under way to reschedule the author’s visit to the county, Deslauriers said.

Skloot’s book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” soon to be made into a movie produced by Oprah Winfrey and Allan Ball, rapidly earned a place on The New York Times bestseller list.

Skloot has appeared on ABC World News, CBS Sunday Morning, Fox Business News, The Colbert Report and other shows to discuss the book about Clover native Henrietta Lacks.

A descendant of slaves, Lacks entered the “colored” wing of the Johns Hopkins Medical Center to be treated for cervical cancer in 1950.

Without her consent, common practice at the time, her biopsied cells were taken and cultured, and although Henrietta died eight months later, her cells lived on and on and on.

Those very cells that killed her, now known as HeLa, became one of the most important tools in the history of medical research.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” has been named a finalist for the 2010 Wellcome Trust Book Prize, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s 2010 award for Excellence in Science Books, in the young adult category and is being taught widely in high schools.