Ty Eschenbaum’s world of high school football and working on his family’s ranch and farm changed suddenly after his freshman year when he was diagnosed with leukemia.
Ty, who lives in Preston, Virginia, recently gave an account of his fight for survival to the Tri-State Livestock News. He gives credit not only to his doctors but to his devoted family members who were with him every minute during his three-year ordeal.
As Ty looked back at the last round of chemo he received when he was in his senior year, he says that between treatment and continuous trips to the hospital it was a “pretty ugly” time in his life.
During those years he developed staph infections, shingles, fungus in his lungs and an addiction to his pain killers. His joints were severely affected by the chemo.
Ty Explains The Effect on His Family
Jeff Exchenbaum and his wife Jody enlisted the help of Ty’s sixteen-year-old brother, Sterling, to take care of most of the farm chores. This allowed his parents to attend to Ty. Ty’s grandfather also pitched in. Sterling took over his father Jeff’s role in managing the farm.
Ty believes that his younger brother, who was four when Ty was diagnosed, was the most affected and confused by the change in their lives.
Another Setback in His Life
After high school, Ty graduated from the University of South Dakota. He was also designing catalogs and a website for the family ranch. The next five years were spent working for the Department of Agriculture in South Dakota.
At about that same time Ty met his love, Autumn Jungwirth. Again his life took a huge turn for the worse when she suddenly. The cause of death was a blood clot.
Autumn’s family donated money from her memorial to the Ty Eschenbaum Foundation that Ty had started a few years earlier. The money would provide a “Make a Wish” vacation each year to a child in South Dakota.
Ever since high school, Ty has arranged public speaking engagements as a way to help other families coping with cancer. By 2011 he had formed the Ty Eschenbaum Foundation with the intention of granting scholarships to cancer survivors.
To learn more about Ty’s scholarship foundation for young cancer patients and offer support please click here.
The First Recipient
Seven-year-old Taelyn Hettick was the first child to receive an invitation to the Foundation’s Make a Wish trip.
But there were hurdles to overcome before they could begin to plan the trip. Taelyn had been diagnosed with Caroli disease, a rare inherited disorder. It is characterized by cystic dilation of the bile ducts in the liver. Taelyn was on a list to receive a liver transplant.
Although the transplant was a success, it was not without many setbacks. Doctors believe that the donated liver may increase Taelyn’s risk of cancer.
Finally, Taelyn was able to take her trip to Disney World. Ty is so impressed with this brave little girl that he says that he is her biggest fan.