She Beat Cancer at 10. Now She’s Set to Be the Youngest American in Space.


Hayley Arceneaux, 29, had hoped this is able to be the yr that she would full her purpose of visiting all seven continents earlier than she turned 30.

She won’t have time to do this, although.

She goes to area.

Ms. Arceneaux, a doctor assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, will probably be one in every of 4 individuals on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from Florida. Scheduled to launch late this yr, it’s to be the primary crewed mission to circle Earth wherein nobody on board is knowledgeable astronaut.

“I did ask, ‘Am I going to get a passport stamp for going to area?’” Ms. Arceneaux stated. “But I don’t suppose I’m going to. So I’m simply going to attract a star and the moon in one in every of my passports.”

This journey is spearheaded by Jared Isaacman, a 38-year-old billionaire who introduced in January that he had purchased the rocket launch from SpaceX, the area firm began by Elon Musk. Mr. Isaacman stated on the time that he needed the mission to be greater than a jaunt for the superwealthy, and that he had given two of the 4 accessible seats to St. Jude.

One of them will go to a random winner in a sweepstakes contest to lift cash for the hospital, which treats youngsters at no cost and develops cures for childhood cancers and different ailments.

The different seat, Mr. Isaacman stated, will probably be crammed by a frontline well being care employee at St. Jude, somebody who symbolizes hope.

On Monday, St. Jude officers and Mr. Isaacman revealed that Ms. Arceneaux was the individual they’d chosen.

Ms. Arceneaux might grow to be the youngest American ever to journey to orbit. She may also be the primary individual with a prosthetic physique half to go to area. She was a affected person at St. Jude practically 20 years in the past, and as a part of her remedy for bone most cancers, steel rods changed components of the bones in her left leg.

In the previous, that will have saved her firmly on the bottom, unable to satisfy NASA’s stringent medical requirements for astronauts. But the appearance of privately financed area journey has opened the ultimate frontier to some individuals who had been beforehand excluded.

Dr. Michael D. Neel, the orthopedic surgeon who put in Ms. Arceneaux’s prosthesis, says that though having synthetic leg bones implies that she will’t play contact sports activities on Earth, they need to not restrict her on this SpaceX trek.

“It exhibits us that the sky will not be the restrict,” Dr. Neel stated. “It’s the sky and past. I feel that’s the true level of all this, that she has little or no limitations so far as what you are able to do. Unless you’re going to play soccer up there.”

Ms. Arceneaux stated she hoped to supply inspiration to sufferers at St. Jude.

“They’ll be capable of see a most cancers survivor in area, particularly one which has gone via the identical factor that they’ve,” she stated. “It’s going to assist them visualize their future.”

Richard C. Shadyac Jr., the president of ALSAC, the fund-raising group for St. Jude, stated of Ms. Arceneaux, “If anyone was emblematic of the notion of hope, it was Hayley.”

Ms. Arceneaux herself didn’t discover out she would have a seat on the rocket till early January. Officials on the hospital had vaguely informed her that there was a chance they needed to speak to her about. She stated she had thought that “perhaps it might be a industrial or perhaps giving a speech someplace.”

Instead, it was a chance to be an astronaut.

“I even form of laughed,” Ms. Arceneaux stated. “I used to be like, “What? Yes. Yes, please, that will be superb.” She then added, “Let me discuss to my mother.”

Her mother didn’t object.

Ms. Arceneaux walked into St. Jude for the primary time in 2002. She was 10. Not lengthy earlier than, she had earned her black belt in taekwondo, however she was complaining of ache in her leg. Her mom noticed a bump protruding over the left knee. The pediatrician within the small city of St. Francisville, La., the place they lived, not removed from Baton Rouge, informed them that it seemed like a cancerous tumor.

“We all fell aside,” Ms. Arceneaux stated. “I bear in mind simply being so scared as a result of at age 10, everybody I had recognized with most cancers had died.”

At St. Jude, docs supplied the excellent news that the most cancers had not unfold to different components of her physique. Ms. Arceneaux went via chemotherapy, an operation to put in the prosthetic leg bones and lengthy classes of bodily remedy.

Even at that younger age, bald from chemotherapy, Ms. Arceneaux was serving to at fund-raisers for St. Jude. The subsequent yr, Louisiana Public Broadcasting honored her with one in every of its Young Heroes awards.

“When I develop up, I wish to be a nurse at St. Jude,” she stated in a video proven on the ceremony in 2003. “I wish to be a mentor to sufferers. When they arrive in, I’ll say, ‘I had that once I was little, and I’m doing good.’”

Last yr, Ms. Arceneaux was employed by St. Jude. She works with youngsters with leukemia and lymphoma, similar to a teenage boy she talked with not too long ago.

“I shared with him that I additionally misplaced my hair,” Ms. Arceneaux stated. “I informed him: ‘You can ask me something. I’m a former affected person. I’ll inform you the reality, something you wish to know.’ And he stated, ‘Will you actually inform me the reality?’ And I stated sure.”

His burning query: “Are you the one going to area?”

Ms. Arceneaux needed to dodge. “I stated, ‘Well, we’ll see who will get introduced.’” she stated. “But I feel he knew as a result of then he and his dad had been like “Yeah!” and high-fived.”

Ms. Arceneaux and Mr. Isaacman have visited SpaceX’s headquarters in California thrice to satisfy with engineers and to begin planning the journey. Unlike the missions that SpaceX flies for NASA, this one won’t go to the International Space Station however will as a substitute orbit Earth for 3 or 4 days earlier than splashing down off the Florida coast.

“She’s obtained an adventurous spirit,” Mr. Isaacman stated of Ms. Arceneaux. “And now she will get to journey to the celebs, which is fairly cool.”

It will nonetheless be just a few extra weeks earlier than they know who their companions will probably be.

The St. Jude sweepstakes, publicized in a tv industrial that was broadcast in the course of the Super Bowl two weeks in the past, will run via the tip of the month. It has thus far raised about $9.5 million. That appears to fall far in need of the $100 million Mr. Isaacman has himself dedicated to St. Jude, or the general purpose of $200 million. But Mr. Isaacman and Mr. Shadyac stated that the fund-raising effort would transcend the sweepstakes and that they had been happy with the progress.

“This goes to be a marketing campaign that’s going to increase all the way in which till the launch,” Mr. Shadyac stated.

The sweepstakes is structured in a manner that successfully limits the scale of donations. One entry is free. A minimal donation of $10 buys 100 entries, and every further greenback donated buys 10 extra entries, as much as $1,000 for 10,000 entries.

There had been some pricier choices accessible that at the moment are offered out. For instance, Mr. Isaacman will give a donor who contributed $100,000 a experience within the Russian-built MiG-29 jet fighter that he owns. The donor may also get a visit to observe the launch at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But that donor nonetheless has simply 10,000 entries within the sweepstakes, the identical as somebody who donated $1,000.

Mr. Isaacman stated this was a deliberate alternative to forestall a rich individual from attempting to snap up the grand prize of a visit to area by shopping for thousands and thousands of entries.

“Is it going to characterize all the individuals of Earth and never simply wealthy white guys?” Mr. Isaacman stated.

The fourth SpaceX seat will go to the winner of a contest sponsored by Mr. Isaacman’s firm, Shift4, which sells credit-card-processing terminals and point-of-sale programs to eating places and different companies. The “Shark Tank”-like competitors requires entrepreneurs to design an internet retailer utilizing Shift4’s software program after which put up a video on Twitter describing their enterprise.

As of final week, fewer than 100 individuals had submitted full entries. “It means if you happen to had made a Shift4 store and entered it, you’ve obtained fairly superb odds,” Mr. Isaacman stated.





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