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Mesa couple bikes in honor of son who survived cancer

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Posted at 5:00 AM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 09:27:40-04

MESA, AZ — September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and an East Mesa couple is hoping to raise awareness and find a cure one mile at a time on their bikes, in honor of their son, a cancer survivor.

Even in the unrelenting Arizona heat, Jeff and Kelly Esteban never miss a chance to hit the road on their bikes, but there is a mission behind the madness.

"Faced with the toughest things in life, you can overcome them as long as you keep working towards them," explains Jeff Esteban.

Jeff says it's something he and his wife, Kelly, have learned from their 21-year-old son, Antonio, a graduate of Desert Ridge High School in Mesa, who's now living out his dreams as a college wrestler in Minnesota.

"Sometimes, he does these things and I'm like, 'I don't think you can pull that off!' Then he shows me again. He's done that his entire life."

Especially when it comes to his health.

In 2017, Antonio would face his toughest opponent yet -- it would be a match he'd have to take off the mat.

"It was heartbreaking. It was the words you never want to hear for anybody and for it to be your child that has leukemia."

Jeff adds there were moments after the diagnosis --and even today --where he wonders what will happen to Antonio, but adds, "He is fiery and competitive. There is no quit in this kid!"

It's a skill the Estebans say likely saved their son's life -- that determination to fight, along with targeted chemotherapy and support from his family -- have all proven to be leukemia's worst enemy.

"He still gets his blood tested every month," says Antonio's mom, Kelly. "So we know the day he goes to get labs and for that whole week, you're holding your breath."

That's something the Estebans say they have learned to live with, knowing what the alternative could be.

In his battle with CML, or Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, there have been some bumps and bruises, but the Estebans say, you should see the other guy!

"He fights for everything," explains Jeff. "And never takes the easy way out."

Both Jeff and Kelly are riding in the Great Cycle Challenge this month to raise money for the Children's Cancer Research Fund. If you'd like to donate, you can support Kelly and Jeff online.