Youngest American Is Going Up to Space

Youngest American is Going Up to Space

( – Space is something very few people currently experience. Some people spend a significant portion of their lives learning, preparing and training for the chance to go into space. The concept of space travel is nothing new to Americans as a whole, but it’s still a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to those who have never been past 30,000 feet.

Many Firsts

On September 15, Hayley Arceneaux, a 2016 Physician Assistant (PA) program graduate from the School of Allied Health Professions at LSU Health in Shreveport, traveled to space as a member of a SpaceX four-person crew mission, dubbed Inspiration4. Arceneaux actually managed several memorable firsts on her trip:

  • She became the first cancer survivor to go into space.
  • She’s the first person with a prosthesis to journey toward the stars.
  • At 29, she’s the youngest American to travel into space.

Inspiration4 hopes to boost awareness and fundraise for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where Arceneaux works as a PA.

The Mission

The reusable Dragon capsule, which housed the crew, is on its fourth flight and will circle the Earth numerous times during its three-day flight. The capsule will then re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and parachute into the Atlantic off Florida’s coast. This mission marks the first time all crew members are private citizens, including the commander, Sian Proctor, an American geology professor and science communicator. Before Inspiration4, a government-employed astronaut led every spaceflight crew.

Hayley’s Story

Arceneaux was diagnosed with bone cancer at only 10-years-old, just a week after becoming a black belt in Taekwondo. Her diagnosis of osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, was found in her left leg. Treatment required the young Arceneaux to travel with her family to St. Jude in Memphis, where she underwent a difficult surgery.

The doctors removed the tumor in her leg and successfully installed both an artificial knee and femur. Intense chemo treatment followed for a year. However, she’s no victim. As a survivor, she draws strength from her story, noting it’s what made her who she is today.

Arceneaux has no problem advocating for St. Jude because they saved her life as a child. Now, she’s reveling in an experience not many will have, especially as the youngest American so far to do it. She is truly a trailblazer and an inspiration to many kids impacted by chronic and severe health conditions.

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