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A source of inspiration: Hayley Arceneaux

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

Hayley Arceneaux might not be a skydiver or skier, since she can’t risk an uncontrolled fall because of a metal rod in her left leg that was put there during her bone cancer treatments as a child. She is, however, a cancer survivor that has been selected to fly to space aboard SpaceX's rocket. The 29 year old woman is a living example of inspiration and hope.

Acreneaux started working as a physician assistant nearly a year ago, almost two decades after beating pediatric cancer herself in St. Jude Research Hospital, where she was treated as a child. The hospital has partnered with billionaire Jared Isaacman, who is chartering a SpaceX flight that will take off with the first-ever all-civilian crew, with himself included. As part of the mission, Isaacman said he wanted a medical officer on board, and St. Jude's chose Arceneaux.

She heard the news on January 5 via a phone call. She was very nervous and remembers answering the proposal by saying “yes, yes please”. Now that Acreneaux's selection has been announced, the spacecraft has room for just two more civilians. One member will be selected from a raffle for St. Jude's, in which anyone can donate any amount of money to the childhood cancer research hospital and will automatically be enrolled into the drawing. Isaacman, who founded payments company Shift4Payments, aims to raise $200 million through the raffle and will donate $100 million out of his own pocket to the hospital. The fourth seat will be a Shift4Payments customer selected through a sweepstakes.

Arceneaux started her treatments at 10 years old and now she is the youngest American and the first person with a prosthetic body part to go to space. She hopes to communicate with her patients in order to inspire them while on board. In her interview with Insider she says: "When you're going through cancer treatments, you're so focused on that day, what appointments you have that day, what pills you have to take that day, and it really can be difficult and overwhelming to look towards the future. I hope this mission not only gives cancer patients something to look forward to, but I hope they realize how attainable this is for them that they can go to space."

To her sky isn’t the limit and frankly it shouldn’t be for anyone. To all cancer patients out there, tomorrow will be better and always remember that hope dies last.


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