Dyson: Spaceflight Training is Positive Alternative to Double Mastectomy

Esther Dyson has penned a short op-ed piece for The Moscow Times explaining why she is spending about $3 million to train as a backup for a space tourism flight to ISS. It is a standard millionaut bio piece (I had stars in my eyes since I was a kid. This is my dream come true!) that recounts all of her space tourism investments and makes a plug for her genome project.

Toward the end, however, it takes a sharp right turn toward Crazytown:

“So I had vague thoughts that I might go into space sometime in 2011 — the year that Google co-founder Sergey Brin is tentatively slated to go. Space Adventures was pushing for 2009, but I was pretty busy.

“Then something happened last spring. My sister Emily discovered that she had cancer and had a double mastectomy. (She is doing well now and, in fact, just won a mini-marathon.) A couple of weeks later, I was faced with one of those conflicts: a board meeting here, a conference there, another opportunity at the same time somewhere else. “Aaagh,” I thought, “If only I had a double mastectomy. I could cancel all these things, and no one would complain!”

“Good grief! I realized my priorities were all out of whack. So in some odd way, this sabbatical in Russia is my alternative to a double mastectomy — a positive one, to be sure, but the same kind of reset-button experience.”

I can sort of see her point: health scare with family member makes her reconsider priorities. OK, I get that. But, it not that much of a choice: spend five months and $3 million training for an orbital joyride that may never actually happen; or, continue with her multi-million dollar investment operations. Oh….tough one.  You know, that potentially fatal illness is looking better and better.

It’s not a choice that most people will ever face. Especially not your average breast cancer survivor. They often have little choice but to having their body mangled, paying medical bills, losing wages, and returning to work as soon as possible.