EL PASO, Texas - Kaitlyn Llanez is a calm and sweet little girl who loves to show off her funky manicure and listen to her brother tell stories.
And like most children who get the chance to visit Disney World, she liked it.
"It was fun," she said softly.
Cancer is almost never thought of as a good thing - especially when a little girl has the disease. But Dr. Mustafa Moazam saw the cancer diagnosis of 7-year-old patient as a sort of blessing in disguise.
Her mom said the disease actually saved Kaitlyn's life from another disorder.
"They didn't expect her to last," Kaitlyn's mother, Diana Llanez said.
Last November, Kaitlyn stopped eating and sleeping. Doctors thought she was depressed because of her father's fourth deployment to Afghanistan.
Then one day after school, Kaitlyn herself came out crying in a lot of pain.
"She said 'mommy, we need to go back to the hospital,'" Diana Llanez said.
And then a family's life changed. Kaitlyn was diagnosed with sarcoma - a rare cancer. A mass the size of a softball was found in her abdomen.
Then it got more complicated.
"Since this was involving all of these major blood vessels, doing a surgery would have been deadly," Moazam
"I would have traded places with her. Absolutely," Diana Llanez said. "Many times, I asked if I could. I'd take it away from her. Her pain, her suffering, everything."
Chemo shrunk the tumor and paved the way for surgery.
And during surgery - another discovery: Kaitlyn had a rare blood clot disorder that also threatened her life.
Her young doctor, treating his first patient, removed the clot.
"What can I do? The best that's out there. What I would do for my own daughter, for my own sister? That's how I look at this," Moazam said.
"Dr. Moazam's dedication has truly been amazing," Diana Llanez said as she fought to hold back tears. "He studies until the very early morning hours."
Kaitlyn's strength comes from her doctor and her mother.
"He gives me everything I need to get better," Kaitlyn said. "She's the best mom anyone could ever have. She cares about me. She's always there when I?ve had hard times."
Kaitlyn's cancer is now in remission.
There will be an event to support families dealing with cancer and to meet Kaitlyn's doctor at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Children's Hospital at Providence.