It’s not often in life we meet someone who truly humbles us because of their inspiring goodness, but that’s what you’d feel if you met today’s NEVER SETTLER in the street. Amberlea Eisenhut is, ironically, a bundle of fun and positive energy, but it’s what you don’t see that matters most, as her smiling persona carries with it a terrible illness.
She’s a strong and truly inspirational figure, teaching us that, no matter what life throws at us, to keep going and focussing on more than just ourselves.
Name: Amberlea Eisenhut
Instagram handle: @amberlea_in_lv
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
What’s your story?
I’m not entirely sure why, but I always struggle to answer this question. My story has been shaped less by what I had planned for myself, than it has by the twists and turns that have come along the way. If you’d asked me during my university years at Queens where I saw myself in the future I guarantee the answer would have been very different from where I find myself today…. But, that’s the beauty of life – even when it doesn’t turn out as you planned, it can end up better in ways you could have never imagined!
Like any story, mine is shaped by its characters, settings and it’s many plot developments along the way.
The Characters: my parents, sister, partner, friends and, arguably the most important character, a yorkie named Mogwai whose personality far exceeds his tiny stature!
My Settings: I’m fortunate to say that my settings are ever changing as I indulge my passion for travel. All my life I’ve had a desire to discover things that cannot be taught from textbooks and learn from people different than myself… Although my adventures have and continue to take me around the world, I’m proud to say that I always find my way back to where I’ve settled, and the place of my roots – The6 (Toronto).
Now the Plot: At first glance I’m a 9-5 business professional, but from 5-9 I turn into a public figure, a part-time model, front-row fashion week attendee, content creator, or as I more commonly refer to myself – an “accidental influencer.” I say accidental because it wasn’t by design and as someone who considers herself quite private, it’s taken some getting used to sharing my life with 50k+ people on a daily basis.
That said, I’ve grown to be incredibly grateful for the opportunity. It’s such a privilege to use this platform to raise awareness, educate, fundraise and advocate for the causes that mean most to me, and I’m blessed to be able to help support and promote the people and organizations that I believe in.
But maybe the important thing my following has enabled me to do, is open up and share my journey living with a rare and serious illness. My greatest hope is to inspire people to see how the worst thing that could ever happen to you may actually just be the best!
Choose and title 5 photos from your phone that best sum up your current life.
What is the toughest adversity you’ve faced on your journey to living your best life, and how did you overcome this?
People say that life is a series of defining moments that shape our world and chart our course. For most, those moments make up our happiest memories. For me, however, the single most defining moment of my life was one that took place several years ago, and led me to my rock bottom. With just two words, a specialist delivered a diagnosis that changed everything: Aplastic Anemia.
While I had known for several months that something was wrong, it had never occurred to me that it would be something that couldn’t be fixed with a simple prescription. I had always assumed that once the doctors figured it out, my life would return to normal… Instead I was faced with a ‘new normal;’ one that involved weekly hospital visits, regular blood transfusions and countless prescriptions. There were never-end lists of things that I could no longer do, and even going to a movie theatre suddenly posed a risk. Overnight, I learned what it meant to ‘live in a bubble.’
Over the next few months, a once busy social life became nonexistent and I spent my days researching a disease most people had never heard of. And then came ROCK BOTTOM: I came across a study that estimated an AA patient’s life expectancy at 8-10 years without a bone marrow transplant. That was it – I was a milk carton with an expiry date, and suddenly I didn’t see any purpose to life. My response to everyone became ‘why bother, I’m just going to die.’
It’s hard to see that girl when you look at me today, and it’s even harder to believe that she now considers her illness to be a blessing, but it’s true!
For most people acceptance is a long journey but for me it happened almost instantly. At my angriest and most hopeless, a friend handed me a stack of obituaries and told me that I could either write an obituary by copying from the lives of others or I could live a life worth writing about!
In that moment I realized that despite the fact my life would never be the same, in many ways it would be better. I was given the opportunity to appreciate life, to understand the difference between merely existing and truly living, and the prospect of a time clock made me start doing the things that others simply dream about.
I don’t take a single day for granted and even on my worst days, when I hate my illness and I’m suffering and in pain, I am blessed because I am grateful to be alive.
View this post on Instagram
Instagram vs. Reality: I’ve been reluctant to share about my illness on social media, not out of shame or in an attempt to hide it, but rather out of a desire not to be defined by it or be pitied because of it. Instagram is great for allowing us the luxury of selective disclosure and my insta has always been a reflection of my best moments…until now! Today I received a msg from a follower who is struggling with treatment for the same illness as me. She asked me how I manage to keep it all up and look like I’ve ‘stepped out of an editorial’ while doing so? Reality: I don’t look like a model 24/7, and for every event or night out, there are countless others I don’t make it to. I struggle just as anyone living with an autoimmune disease does! You are not alone and in support of you and anyone else struggling- here is a very personal glimpse of reality compiled over my last round of treatment.
What’s your goal for the next chapter?
For me, each day is a new chapter, and my goal remains the same: MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE!
It may not sound simple, but I believe we have an opportunity to play a small part in changing the world. I measure my success by asking myself one question: did I make someone else’s life a little better or brighter today?
Some days it’s just a matter of spotting someone in need and grabbing them a coffee or bite to eat, others it’s paying a genuine compliment to a person in need of a boost. It’s easy to measure success when you see the smiles on the faces of children you volunteer with, and read the emails from community members you’ve advocated for…
Sometimes it’s 1×1 and others it’s being a voice to fight for people who can’t speak for themselves. Each day is different, but on my best day – I spotted a little girl in the stands of a professional rugby game and saw that her wheelchair prevented her from getting close enough to meet her favourite player… and I was able not only to help make that possible, but to help her onto the field to raise the Championship cup with the entire team, while wearing her idol’s jersey!
Oh, and I’ll continue to work towards my ultimate goal of visiting 100 countries! Next on the list- the Balkans. Hope you’ll follow along!