Hayley Arceneaux’s dreams of becoming an astronaut were shattered after she was diagnosed with childhood bone cancer at age 10, but now she’s going to space in the world’s first all-civilian orbit mission.
Now, the 29-year-old physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will make history as the youngest American, the first childhood cancer survivor and one of the crew members on SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission. .
Isaacman donated two chairs to the hospital: one to Arceneaux and another to be raffled off to the public as part of a $200 million fundraiser for the hospital.
On “The View” Monday, July 19, 2021, Hayley Arceneaux shares her thoughts on becoming the youngest American, the first childhood cancer survivor and person with a prosthesis to go to space.
Arceneaux shared how her battle with cancer as a child prepared her for the mission to orbit and her excitement for the experience ahead.
Arceneaux told co-host Sunny Hostin that she is “so excited” and “so ready” for the space mission.
“I’m going to be the youngest American to go to space, but what I’m also really excited about is being the first childhood cancer survivor to go to space, and the first person to have an internal prosthesis,” she said.
During her one-year treatment at St. Jude for bone cancer, Arceneaux had to undergo surgery to replace her knee and have a metal rod placed in her left thigh to save her leg.
“I’m really excited to show all these kids who are undergoing cancer treatment what they can do as well,” Arceneaux said.
Arceneaux’s family trip to NASA headquarters when she was 10 years old inspired her to become an astronaut, but she said her hopes sank after being diagnosed with bone cancer just a few months later.
Looking back at the time the doctors told her she had cancer, Arceneaux recalled bursting into tears. “I kept saying, ‘I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die,’ because by the age of 10 everyone I knew had died with cancer.”
She added that it wasn’t until she “walked into the doors of St. Jude’s” that she felt hope for survival.
“That year I went through cancer treatment in St. Jude was actually the most important year of my life,” Arceneaux said. “It definitely made me who I am, and because of that I got hard, and I think in a way it prepared me to go into space.”
While Arceneaux was beating cancer, she thought going to space was a wish she could never fulfill. That is, until she got an “out of the blue” call from St. Jude in January.
“I was absolutely shocked when they asked if I wanted to go to space with them,” she said. “I immediately said yes, and then thought for a moment. I thought, ‘Well, let me check with my mother.'”
“To become this first all-civilian mission to space, and what this means for everyone who comes after us, is incredibly exciting to be a part of,” she said.
Arceneaux, who is currently an astronaut in training and will become a certified commercial astronaut after completing her mission, will orbit the Earth for three to four days.
During her training, she said she learned the ins and outs of SpaceX’s spacecraft, as well as centrifuge training and hypoxia training. Next week, the crew will learn about survival in the water.
Since Arceneaux is a physician assistant, she is the designated medical officer on the mission and undergoes additional training.
While in orbit, “going deeper, higher into space” than any space crew has done in 15 years, Arceneaux and crew will investigate the radiation profile observed at that level of space.
“We’re going to do some cognition testing while we’re up there, taking some blood and all kinds of samples to learn any effects of radiation exposure, and also testing the microbiome while we’re in this tight capsule, we’re all breathing the same air, to really see what the bacteria on our skin are doing,” she said on “The View.”
On July 11, billionaire Sir Richard Branson flew to the lower edge of space and back to planet Earth in the first fully-manned flight of his private space tourism company, Virgin Galactic. Another billionaire, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, will fly to the edge of space on Tuesday with the first manned flight of his private space company Blue Origin.
Arceneaux weighed in on the billionaires shooting into space.
“It’s so exciting that more and more people are experiencing space,” said Arceneaux, adding that her Inspiration4 mission crew was together to watch Branson and planned to be together again to watch Bezos.
“How our mission is different is that we go into orbit and spend three days in space, participate in research and go through a really extensive training to get us there,” she continued.
“Until my mission, I could never have been a NASA astronaut with the rod I have in my leg,” Arceneaux said. “Now that space travel is opening up, you no longer need to be physically perfect to go to space.”
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