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Cancer survivor and youngest American gets set to head to space3 min read

February 28, 2021 2 min read


Cancer survivor and youngest American gets set to head to space3 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

For Hayley Arceneaux, life wasn’t easy as a kid. The 29-year-old fought the odds and beat bone cancer, and now, life is looking up, and how. She will not only be the first person with a prosthetic body part to visit space, but also the youngest American ever to orbit the Earth. 

Arceneaux, who works as a physician assistant at the same hospital where she underwent treatment, will launch from Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket made by SpaceX, the company founded by business mogul Elon Musk

Arceneaux had said,  “I think this mission is going to inspire people in so many ways,” Ms Arceneaux said. “It shows them that anything is possible.”

This mission is special as there will be no professional astronauts on board the spacecraft. Arceneaux will be joined by two contest winners and flight commander Jared Isaacman, who is also paying for the entire mission.

Isaacman is aiming to turn the mission into a fundraising event to raise $200 million for the hospital where Arceneaux works – St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 

“From the start, we wanted a crew member that represented the mission’s spirit of hope,” Isaacman said about choosingArceneaux for the mission. 

Hayley as a child

At the age of 10, Arceneaux was a bone cancer patient at St Jude.  She had chemotherapy and surgery to replace some of her leg bones with artificial ones. Normally, Arceneaux would not have qualified for such a mission, but private ones such as this have opened doors for people from different walks of life.  “Until this mission, I could have never been an astronaut,” Arceneaux said, adding, “This mission is opening space travel to people who are not physically perfect.”

The next step would be for the crew to undergo a rigorous, months-long training programme, including mission simulations in zero gravity. 

Getting to represent cancer patients and survivors is an incredible honour. It really wasn’t that long ago that I was in their shoes. When you’re going through cancer treatment, you’re so focused on the day-to-day. It can be really difficult to look toward the future. I hope that this mission will allow them to imagine their future.

Hayley Arceneaux

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Sources: CNN, BBC

Images: St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Reuters