BALTIMORE (WJZ) — January is Cervical Health Awareness Month and there may be no more significant place to raise awareness than here in Baltimore, where one woman’s battle with the disease has affected millions of lives.

Henrietta Lacks was treated for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins, where the cells her doctors collected from her body — known widely in the medical community as HeLa cells — led to and continue to lead to breakthroughs in medical science.

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A book about her, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” was published in 2010 and is set to be made into a movie this year. Oprah Winfrey is producing the film and will also star in it as Lacks’s sister.

She talked exclusively to WJZ during filming in Baltimore in the fall.

“From the first time I read the book, I knew that, or certainly felt, that it was a story that needed to be shared with the world,” she said. “And the story all started right here in Baltimore actually makes it, gives it that much more meaning but it would have meaning no matter where she was born or where she lived but the fact that it started here at Hopkins is really pretty profound.”

The movie’s titular role will be played by Renée Elise Goldsberry. Rose Byrne also has a major part.

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The Henrietta Lacks House of Healing held an informational seminar this weekend in Turner Station.

HeLa cells laid the foundation for modern medicine, and her family intends to build on it.

“It’s very important to me because my mother gave her life to cancer so I’m trying to help find a cure for it,” Lawrence Lacks, Henrietta’s son, said.

“If we enlighten people on cervical cancer and other kinds of cancer, then we can make a dent in cancer,” Alfred Lacks Carter said.

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