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 the earth.

    In addition to serving as the 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.

    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 spacecraft 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.  The crew’s journey is featured in a Netflix docuseries called Countdown:  Inspiration4 Mission to Space.

    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. She has a passion for exploring Earth and has now been to all 7 continents.  She was inspired to write about her journey and published her memoir “Wild Ride:  A Memoir of IV Drips and Rocket Ships,” as well as the young readers' edition Wild Ride:  My Journey from Cancer Kid to Astronaut. One of her greatest joys is sharing her story of hope and resilience through speaking. 


    Embrace Fear and Reach for the Stars: How to Seize Life’s Biggest Opportunitiesarrow-down

    Hayley Arceneaux was working at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital when she got a phone call that would require a life-changing answer. She had been chosen to be part of a mission to space called Inspiration4, the first all-civilian crew to circle the planet.

    The rest is, literally, history.

    With her signature blend of optimism and candor, Hayley explores the transformative power of saying "yes," even when it elicits fear and discomfort. Underscored with anecdotes from her historic journey, Hayley shares how stepping outside your comfort zone can lead to remarkable personal and professional growth, propelling you toward even the most daring goals you set for yourself.

    This keynote is for audiences seeking to break through self-imposed limitations, embrace uncertainty, and unlock their full potential. Uniquely positioned and often humorous, Hayley will leave you prepared to boldly embrace opportunity when it comes your way.

    Key Audience Takeaways:

    1. Learn how to redefine fear as a catalyst for growth.

    2. Build confidence to say "yes" to life-changing opportunities.

    3. Discover tools to embrace uncertainty when it matters most.

    The Power of Resilience: How to Cultivate a Mindset that Changes the Worldarrow-down

    At the age of 10, Hayley's life took an unexpected turn when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Instead of letting her dreams be shattered, her experience at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital ignited a passionate career to give back to the place that saved her life.

    In a profound twist of fate, she found herself serving as an ambassador for St. Jude on Inspiration4, the first all-civilian mission to orbit Earth. Not only did she become the first person with a prosthesis to go to space, but she also made history as the youngest American and the first pediatric cancer survivor to venture beyond Earth's bounds. Through the mission, Hayley helped raise over $240 million for St. Jude, leaving an indelible impact on the lives of countless children and families.

    As audiences join Hayley in the capsule simulator, scale the heights of Mount Rainier, and witness the breathtaking views of Earth from space, they will find a newfound appreciation for the possibilities that await those who refuse to let adversity define their path.

    Hayley's story reminds us that even in the face of life’s darkest challenges, there is always the opportunity to embrace a perspective that reaches far beyond the boundaries of this world.

    Key Audience Takeaways:

    1. Harness the transformative power of resilience.

    2. Reframe adversity as an opportunity for growth.

    3. Reach for extraordinary possibilities with an unwavering spirit.


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

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