Bravery has many definitions. You’d think Ty Eschenbaum is brave because he beat cancer. That’s not the only reason, and you’re about to see why.
Storms just kept beating up Lake Poinsett this year. No matter how dark it gets, the sun always rises.
“It’s nice and quiet here,” Eschenbaum said, looking at the lake from his deck.
Eschenbaum finds the beginning and the peace of a new day.
“Coffee on the deck in the morning,” Eschenbaum said.
Surrounded by the steady waves and photo after photo of him and the love of his life, Autumn; it’s easy to see why Eschenbaum calls the lake home.
He’s more than earned this life, after facing death early on.
“The rest of my last three years of high school were just constantly at the doctor or hospital. Everything that could’ve possibly gone wrong seems like it went wrong,” Eschenbaum said.
Doctors diagnosed Eschebaum with leukemia when he was 15. Three long years of chemotherapy led to joint problems and staph infections. To say the least, it would’ve been easy for the now 31-year-old to give up and ask ‘why me?’
“As soon as I started going to the hospital, there’s little kids and babies. Met a lot of families with a lot worse prognoses than me. It quickly became ‘why not me?'” Eschenbaum said.
In 2011, he started the Ty Eschenbaum Foundation to support youth cancer survivors and his family. He also started public speaking, even when he was still sick.
“Could hardly stand. They put me in a stool. I was so weak, but I loved it. I loved talking with kids about life and attitude,” Eschenbaum said.
Fast forward to now, Eschenbaum is in remission and helping kids with cancer.
“Nicest guy to everybody and makes you think, geez, what he’s been through, how’s he like this?” Jacob Ebbers, friend, said.
A few years ago, he met Autumn. It’s easy to see they just clicked.
“She’s just the most beautiful person I’ve ever met, inside and outside. For sure,” Eschenbaum said.
They share a love for kids, and gratitude for sharing life together. After so many years of putting others first, Eschenbaum finally found happiness and the one.
“Life has been going pretty well. I thought, ha, this is what it’s supposed to be. Have patience, do your best, and everything will fall into place. I absolutely thought that,” Eschenbaum said.
Everything was perfect.
“Until spring came,” Eschenbaum said.
And Autumn was gone. Autumn died in May, due to a blood clot.
“I was with her. So, it was hard. There’s no words. There’s no words,” Eschenbaum said.
It was unexpected, and unfair. Again, nobody would blame Eschenbaum for giving up and asking, ‘why me?’.
“I don’t know what the next day is going to bring. I know we’re supposed to keep going,” Eschenbaum said.
In Autumn’s honor, and through his foundation and money from her memorial, Eschenbaum is adopting Make-A-Wish families every year. Even as his shattered, Eschenbaum is making sure a child’s dreams come true.
“I really just think about, what would Autumn want us to do. What would she say? Would she be proud of what we’re doing….” Eschenbaum said.
Brady Mallory: Do you feel that she is?
Eschenbaum: I hope so. I hope so…
Eschenbaum is surrounded by friends, family, the lake, and love.
“Autumn absolutely loved living at the lake. She’d have her coffee on the deck,” Eschenbaum said.
It would be easy for him to give up. Who could blame him?
“I always like the saying, God won’t give us more than we can handle and he thinks Ty is one tough dude,” Sterling Eschenbaum, brother, said.
“Being brave isn’t always what people think it is. You know. I think there’s a perception of what brave and strong look like, and that’s not always the case,” Eschenbaum said.
When it feels like life is at its darkest, and the sun will never rise again, Ty Eschenbaum does. He shows the rest of us it is possible to face a new day.
“Sometimes just getting up and putting one foot in front of the other and taking, we say take one day at a time. But if you can’t take it one day at a time, take an hour at a time. If you can’t take an hour at a time, take a minute at a time. Just please please keep going,” Eschenbaum said.