Health

Colorful spacesuits bring hope to children with cancer

Published 1:53 PM ET, Tue October 4, 2016
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On September 16, astronaut Kate Rubins wore a spacesuit painted by children with cancer on the International Space Station. In a video chat, she spoke with some of the patients. It is part of the Space Suit Project, which hopes to raise awareness for childhood cancer and research. NASA
Rubins and pediatric cancer patient David Olazaba painted the first brush strokes on the Courage flight suit. Lauren Harnett
The Hope suit was the first. It has been on display to raise awareness for the project and childhood cancer. Robert Markowitz/NASA
Ian Cion, the Arts in Medicine artist-in-residence at MD Anderson hospitals, (far left), coordinated with Rubins and retired astronaut Nicole Stott (second from right), to bring the Space Suit Project to life and allow childhood cancer patients to create the suits. Lauren Harnett
Cion sets up art studios in open areas of the hospitals as well as patients' rooms, especially if they are in isolation. Lauren Harnett
Whitney Lowery, a NASA space suit technician with ILC Dover, works on sewing art pieces to build the children's space suit replicas for the project. The art pieces will be combined to create the space suit replica call Unity. Lauren Harnett
Astronauts Reid Wiseman and Stott joined patients to paint the Unity flight suit. To the immediate left of Wiseman sits Jacob Ballard, a patient who battled Ewing's sarcoma at MD Anderson. Lauren Harnett
Through the art projects at MD Anderson, and the fact that they both had Ewing's sarcoma, Jacob bonded with Katarina Stoffa. Courtesy Eileen Stoffa
Kat painted an image of elephants she designed on the Courage suit. Robert Markowitz/NASA
Elephants are Kat's favorite animal and Cion arranged for her to meet them as one of her bucket list items. Courtesy Eileen Stoffa
The image Kat painted on the spacesuit was a replica of a tattoo she designed for herself, her mother, father and older brother. The four elephants represent their family. Courtesy Eileen Stoffa
Jacob and his mother, Letha, attended the SpaceX launch of the Courage suit to the ISS. Courtesy Letha Ballard
Because of his love for engineering and inspiration from the Space Suit Project, Jacob wants to work on rovers and robotics for NASA. James Blair/JSC/NASA
Letha credits Jacob's friendship with Cion for helping him make new friends, and inspiring him to pursue his dream of working for NASA. Courtesy Letha Ballard