Go girl! Go to space!
A pediatric cancer survivor has never been to space. But that will change soon. Later this month, Hayley Arceneaux and her Inspiration4 crew mates will orbit the Earth for three days in the first all-civilian mission to space. When she was 10 years old, Hayley was a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Now she works there as a physician assistant. In our second episode, we’ll hear from a member of her medical team, her mom and Hayley herself as she recounts her journey of perseverance.
Go Girl! Go to Space!
The Inspiration4 mission represents a lot of “firsts.” Hayley Arceneaux accounts for many of those. She’ll be the first pediatric cancer survivor in space, and the first person with an internal prosthetic. She’ll also be the youngest American in space. Hayley has overcome a lot to get to this point. She was treated for bone cancer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She later became a physician assistant there – but only after applying several times. The training she and the other members of Inspiration4 completed this year has been physically demanding. But it’s also shown Hayley that she possesses a deeper strength than she realized. In the second episode of St. Jude Mission of a Lifetime, we’ll hear from three people who know Hayley’s story best.
Elizabeth Barnwell, St. Jude Nurse Practitioner
On her reaction to learning that Hayley would be part of Inspiration4
“Go girl, go to space! Can you take pictures? Can we text when you’re up there? It does make you kind of want to go with her, you know. I said, ‘Is your mom going to just jump on that shuttle with you?’ And she said, ‘I don’t know, between the two of you, maybe.’” __
Colleen Arceneaux, Hayley’s mom
On the physical challenges that Hayley has overcome
“When she left the hospital right after treatment, she did have a very significant limp. Because it was just so hard bending her leg. But she’s really worked at that. She was in physical therapy quite a long time. And the last time she was in physical therapy a couple times a week for two-and-a-half years to get the functioning that she has now. I always get a little smile on my face when people find out that she did have cancer, and they didn’t know it.” __
On what the Inspiration4 mission means to kids who are in cancer treatment
"This one family that came up to me, I'll never forget this. The mom came up, and she was with a little girl and the mom started crying, saying how much this mission meant to her daughter because it was giving her hope. And the little girl told me that recently she's been discouraged because she can't run or jump. And I told her, you know, I can't run or jump either, but it's not stopping me from going to space." __
On what she learned about herself after climbing Mount Rainier with the Inspiration4 crew
“If somebody would have told me that morning that I would have been hiking almost 10 hours, I would have just flat out said, I can't go. I can't do that, with my leg. But then, I did it. And it went great. And then when I got to the top, I just had this moment where I was like, I was putting limits on myself that didn't need to be there."
On what she’ll be thinking about as she waits for Inspiration4 to launch
"It's going to be about two hours after the door closes before we launch. And either that's going to be the longest two hours, or the shortest two hours of my life. Probably both. But I think I'm just going to be feeling a bunch of gratitude that I'm sitting in that seat. That I'm getting to represent all these kids. Other survivors, kids going through the trenches going through treatment, and then, the kids that aren't with us. I'm representing all these kids, and it's a huge honor."