The Chicago Journal

Inspiring Resilience: Young Cancer Warrior Michael’s Journey with Cal’s Angels

Cal's Angels
Image commercially licensed from: DepositPhotos

In the sprawling Chicago area, a remarkable story of courage and resilience unfolds as a young boy, not even 10 years old, defies the odds by conquering cancer not once, but five times. Michael Esquivel, a spirited resident of Gilberts, has become a symbol of strength in the face of pediatric cancer. This article delves into his inspiring journey and the Saint Charles-based nonprofit organization, Cal’s Angels, that has stood by his side throughout this battle.

A Fighter Beyond His Years:

Meet Michael Esquivel, a 9-year-old filled with boundless energy and an infectious zest for life. His interests range from golf to soccer, and he’s a passionate basketball player. Despite his youthful exuberance, recent hospital visits have temporarily sidelined this vibrant boy.

A Mother’s Heartache:

Kelly Esquivel, Michael’s mother, reflects on September 17th as a poignant day in their lives. It marks the nine-year anniversary of Michael’s diagnosis with neuroblastoma when he was just an infant. Today, as he approaches his 10th birthday, the relentless battle against cancer continues. Since 2018, Michael has faced four relapses, enduring countless rounds of chemotherapy, numerous check-ups, and prolonged periods away from the comfort of his own bed.

The Support of Cal’s Angels:

Amidst the turmoil, a beacon of hope shines in the form of the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, known as Cal’s Angels. Co-founder Stacey Wahlberg plays a pivotal role in rallying support for children like Michael who are in the thick of the fight. She emphasizes the importance of raising awareness, as it not only educates individuals but also encourages donations that fuel crucial research.

The Impact of Donations:

Donations to Cal’s Angels have a profound impact. They fund pediatric cancer clinical trials, fulfill children’s wishes, and provide moments of joy. Whether it’s a trip to an amusement park, a new playset, or a thrilling race car experience, Cal’s Angels aims to put smiles on the faces of these young warriors, if only for a moment.

A Heartwarming Inclusivity:

Cal’s Angels doesn’t stop at granting wishes; they recognize the importance of supporting siblings. Michael’s sisters, for instance, were part of the celebration when he was honored at a Hampshire High School football game. This inclusivity ensures that no one feels left behind during these challenging times.

Strength in Unity:

As the saying goes, “It takes a village.” Cal’s Angels embodies this philosophy by waging WAR – an acronym for wishes, awareness, and research. Their relentless efforts include fundraising events that gather communities together to support their cause.

How You Can Contribute:

If you’re inspired by Michael’s story and the work of Cal’s Angels, there are several ways to make a difference. Visit to learn more about how you can support their cause. Additionally, on September 27th, more than 60 Culver’s locations are participating in a fundraiser where 10% of all sales will be donated to Cal’s Angels. Last year, this event raised over $50,000 for the charity, making a significant impact on the lives of children like Michael.


Michael’s journey is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and Cal’s Angels stands as a beacon of hope for pediatric cancer patients and their families. By raising awareness, providing support, and conducting vital research, they continue to make a meaningful difference in the lives of these young warriors.