FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida doctor, who conquered cancer, is helping others battle the disease to become a survivor like him.

He has a unique understanding of the disease. He knows, first hand, what his patients are going through, and knows exactly the right words to say.

Dr. Alejandro Cambara understands more than most about cancer.

A pediatric hematologist and oncologist at Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, he’s had his own personal battle with the disease.  

“I was diagnosed in January 2005, during my first year of pediatric residency with cancer, with an AML, which is a type of leukemia,” said Dr. Cambara.

The news came once he arrived to the United States to become a pediatrician.

He said his entire life changed after the diagnosis.  

“I had to understand that I might die in the next 24 hours,” said Dr. Cambara. “Basically I had to learn how to walk again, cause I couldn’t walk due to pain on my legs.”

Dr. Cambara said what motivated him to beat his cancer was the support of his peers, and a patient who had the same condition as him.

“She didn’t survive, and that’s when I said, ‘I have to beat this. For me and for her,'” said Dr. Cambara.

After a tough battle, Dr. Cambara was able to recover and finish his residency. He said his experience helped him get more involved and connect with cancer patients.  

“I understood what cancer was, as a patient, as a doctor, as a human being. I knew more now, but I feel like the need to help these patients more to go through this process,” said Dr. Cambara.

His patients said the care they’ve received have helped them through their treatment.  

“He makes it so much better. He plays with you, he’s funny with you, and it’s a little stressful because you’re in a clinic, but it doesn’t feel like it. They make it feel like, something normal,” said Sofia Pimentel, a patient.

Dr. Cambara offers words of encouragement for people who are in the same position he once was.  

“Even in that moment, difficult moment of your life, there’s a life ahead of you,” said Dr. Cambara. “You have to fight. You have to trust. Never lose any hope, that’s me. I never lost any hope.”

During his time at the hospital, Dr. Cambara has treated kids as young as newborns to young adults.

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