Hayley Arceneaux

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Cancer Survivor & Crew Member, SpaceX's Inspiration4 (The First Entirely Civilian Spacecraft Mission)

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    Hayley Arceneaux: Biography at a Glance

    • Hayley Arceneaux is the youngest American ever to orbit Earth, the first pediatric cancer survivor to become an astronaut, and the first person with a prosthetic body part to visit space.
    • Hayley is one of four crew members selected to pilot SpaceX's Inspiration4. This groundbreaking SpaceX flight was the first spacecraft mission composed entirely of civilians.
    • The mission took the crew on a "low-Earth" orbit along which they circled the globe every 90 minutes. Hayley was selected to occupy the seat representing the Hope pillar.
    • Hayley is a childhood cancer survivor who is now a physician assistant for pediatric cancer patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the very hospital that saved her life.
    • Hayley's journey is chronicled in Netflix's Countdown: The Inspiration4 Mission to Space, which is the first documentary series from the streaming company to cover an event in “near real-time.”
    • She also shares the details of her incredible journey in her memoir, Wild Ride: A Memoir of I.V. Drips and Rocket Ships, and the accompanying middle-grade and picture book editions.



    A pediatric cancer diagnosis at age 10 did not put dreams on hold for Hayley Arceneaux. Her experience at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® not only cured her but also changed her career aspirations. Now a Physician Assistant at St. Jude, she’s giving back to the place that saved her life as a child. In a journey that’s come full circle, in September 2021 she served as an ambassador for the hospital on Inspiration4, the first all-civilian mission to orbit.

    In addition to serving as the chief medical officer on Inspiration4, she made history in other ways, becoming the first person with a prosthesis, the first pediatric cancer survivor, and the youngest American to ever go to space.

    Hayley was 10 years old and preparing to earn her black belt in Taekwondo when one of her knees began to ache. A lump above her knee turned out to be osteosarcoma, bone cancer.  Hayley’s curative treatment included a year of chemotherapy and limb-sparing surgery, which saved her leg.

    She obtained an undergraduate degree in Spanish in 2014, and a Physician Assistant degree in 2016. Hayley now works at St. Jude with pediatric leukemia and lymphoma patients, fulfilling her long-held dream to return to the hospital as a bilingual care provider.

    Hayley is a world traveler who is still working toward her goal of visiting every continent.  Her past travels have included a month volunteering in local hospitals in Peru plus visits to Nicaragua, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Morocco, New Zealand, Switzerland, Mexico, Colombia, and more.

    When approached about the opportunity to go to space, Hayley reacted first in disbelief, then enthusiasm. Family members, including a brother and sister-in-law who are both aerospace engineers, as well as her mom, strongly supported her decision.

    Training for space included 6 months of intensive preparations, including academics, long hours spent in the capsule simulator, centrifuge, hypoxia, and water survival training.  The crew also climbed Mount Rainier.

    On September 15, 2021, Hayley and her fellow Inspiration4 crew members launched on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Resilience. They successfully orbited the Earth for three days and returned to Earth, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean.  While in orbit they participated in multiple biomedical research endeavors.

    A highlight of Hayley’s experience in space was her video call with former and current patients at St. Jude. “I made sure this call would happen and I could show what their future could look like, whether they want to be astronauts or whatever big dream they want to come true.”

    The mission has raised over $240 million for St. Jude. Inspiration4 continues to make an impact for St. Jude and beyond.

    Post-space life for Hayley includes returning to Memphis to continue her work as a PA, and enjoying the new perspective that going to space has brought.


    Wild Ride: From IV Drips to Rocket Shipsarrow-down

    Hayley Arceneaux is the youngest American ever to orbit Earth, the first pediatric cancer survivor to become an astronaut, and the first person with a prosthetic body part to visit space. Her remarkable journey shows us all that when we choose to face our fears, extraordinary things can happen.

    In this conversation, Hayley details how she overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to grab hold of a life greater than she ever imagined. She recounts her odyssey from her cancer diagnosis at age ten to the long rounds of treatment that inspired her goal of working with pediatric cancer patients, then having to live through her father’s terminal cancer diagnosis. After all of this, she got her dream job as a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Hospital and was sure she had finally attained the life she wanted. Then the unimaginable happened... she was invited to go to space as a St. Jude ambassador.

    Hayley shares her story and uses her signature upbeat messaging to encourage audience members to fight for the life they want. Audiences walk away feeling inspired to follow their dreams and let those dreams lead them to the ones they didn’t even know they had.


    What a great interview with Hayley! We believe it was the highlight of the event.

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