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Meet Dr. Beatriz Amendola of Innovative Cancer Institute in South Miami

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Beatriz Amendola.

Dr. Amendola, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born and raised in Montevideo, Uruguay. From an early age, I knew that I wanted to become a doctor. However, at that time in my country, it was not common for women to become doctors, so my family pushed me into music. When I was 18, I prepared and applied to go to medical school without my family knowing. When I got in, I remember sitting down with my parents, uncles, and grandparents to tell them the news. It’s sad to say, but they were disappointed. It was hard for them to understand that this was my dream. Regardless, I decided to attend med school and pursue my calling.

During my last year of medical school, things were getting scary in Uruguay, as the military regime had taken power. When I graduated, I fled the country to join my (future) husband in the US. Leaving my family and starting fresh in the US was difficult enough, but on top of it, I didn’t speak any English!

At first, I took odd jobs here and there as I learned English and worked to secure a residency, eventually landing one and finally getting a full-time job at the University of Michigan, where we settled in for five years and had our two children.

From there, our family moved to Philadelphia for another five years, and then finally ended up in Miami, where we have now lived for over 25 years. Throughout that time, I had a successful career at both universities and private practices, but I realized that the best way for me as a female doctor to truly thrive was to go out on my own.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
When I first came to the US forty years ago, women were a minority in the workplace, especially in the medical field at the doctor level. On top of that, I was a Latina immigrant with a strong accent. I felt alone and invisible. I was constantly overlooked for promotions, consistently paid less than male colleagues and always handed the graveyard shift. When I had children, I didn’t get any concessions. My only choice was to work even harder than before – and harder than everyone else – to prove myself.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Innovative Cancer Institute – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I’m a radiation oncologist, which means that I treat patients with cancer, but instead of traditional methods like surgery or chemo, we use radiation. What makes radiation different than traditional methods is that it provides a more flexible treatment of cancer that fits in with the on-the-go lifestyle of today’s adults.

Take breast cancer, for example, a very common cancer here in the US. When treated by conventional methods the process from start to finish including mastectomy, chemo, recovery, and then reconstruction (which can be more than one surgery) and recovery yet again, can all take between 6 months to a full year and is very uncomfortable. Not to mention, women will likely lose sensation in those breasts. However, radiation therapy is about six weeks total, doesn’t require any surgeries, and is completely safe and effective. As women are increasingly working more and building careers of their own, opting for a lengthy and painful surgical process will fall out of vogue. Radiation Therapy is a better option for women who are looking to continue living their lives and overcoming cancer on their own terms.

I’m also the founder of the Innovative Cancer Institute here in South Florida. What I’m most proud of is that at the Innovative Cancer Institute, we have built a place where doctors and patients can find state-of-the-art technologies and minimally invasive treatments while still maintaining a small practice environment that treats patients like family. We are one of the only private practices that does radiation therapy, giving patients the same level of care you would get at hospital, but are smaller, faster and more personable than a large hospital. I’m specifically proud of newest machine we acquired called the Halcyon from Varian, it’s the only one of its kind in Florida, and we’re the first to have it.

Another benefit that differentiates us is that we are able to offer patients new consultation appointments within 48 hours of receiving their call. We never keep patients waiting on the phone, especially for their first visit. Cancer is serious but we treat our patients personally. Because of that care, I’m proud to say we have a perfect 5-star rating on Google with over 50 reviews!

Is there anyone, in particular, you would like to recognize? Mentors, etc?
Of course, I am grateful to my husband of over 40 years, Dr. Marco Amendola, who has always supported me in my career and encouraged me to follow my dreams. It was him and our close friend, Dr. Xiang Wu, who both pushed me to go out on my own and open the Innovative Cancer Institute.

But throughout my career, I learned early on to look out for myself. I found that I could not and should not rely on others to really get what I wanted in life. I was a Latina woman in a male-dominated field, so my professional voyage was very much a solitary one.

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