St. Jude pediatric cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux youngest American to fly to space

Memphis: This September Inspiration4 crew member Hayley Arceneaux will be the first pediatric cancer survivor and youngest American to go to space, all to raise awareness and support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®.

Arceneaux will serve as the crew’s medical officer. The 29-year-old is a physician assistant at St. Jude, where she was treated for osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, at age 10.

Inspiration4 is the world’s first all-civilian mission to space led by commander Jared Isaacman. The 38-year-old founder and chief executive officer of Shift4 Payments donated two of the four seats to St. Jude, with the goal of raising $200 million by 2022 for research and treatment of childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Isaacman has committed $100 million to accelerate developments and save more children worldwide. 

Isaacman will occupy the mission seat that stands for Leadership. He donated two seats to St. Jude: The mission seat called Hope to Arceneaux and the Generosity seat to Christopher Sembroski, a 41-year-old aerospace industry employee at Lockheed Martin and United States Air Force veteran. The Prosperity seat will be occupied by Dr. Sian Proctor, a 51-year-old entrepreneur, educator, trained pilot and active voice in the space exploration community. 

Being not only the youngest American going to space, but also the first pediatric cancer survivor and first person with a prosthesis to go to space, a visibly happy Arceneaux says, “I am excited to show my St. Jude patients and kids around the world that they can accomplish their dreams.”

Reminiscing her days at St.Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a child she says, “I remember pretending to be angry as we arrived at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, but in reality, I was just so scared. At the time, cancer to me seemed like a death sentence because everyone I had known who had it passed away. As soon I entered the doors of St. Jude, however, everything changed. I felt hope, a sense of optimism that I could get through this.”  

The Dragon spacecraft plans to travel into space and orbit the planet for a few days before its water landing.

Elaborating on her training experience Arceneaux says, “We received Centrifuge training, water survival training (for the landing) and the crew’s hike up Mount Rainier as a team-building exercise.” 

Her goal is to travel to all seven continents before turning 30. She has visited over 20 countries to-date and the crew has bonded during training and plans to visit Antarctica after the mission.

Inspiration4 will launch Sept.15 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

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