In 1951, shortly after the birth of her daughter Deborah, Henrietta Lacks noticed something wrong with her womb--a sensation which she described as a "knot" inside of her. She did not see a doctor at that time and found out shortly thereafter that she was pregnant once again, this time with her fifth child. Although her friends suggested that this must be the explanation for the "knot," Henrietta did not feel this was true.
After the birth of Joe, her fifth child, Henrietta experienced vaginal bleeding outside of her menstrual cycle. While taking a bath, she found a hard lump to the left of the opening of her womb. This discovery finally prompted her to visit a gynecological clinic at Johns Hopkins hospital, at which point the source of all these symptoms was discovered: a cervical tumor.