Ever since she was a little girl in the Dominican Republic, Maria Oliveira only wanted to heal animals and be a mother. So when she was diagnosed with Stage 3B breast cancer in 2007 and doctors explained her chances of survival were slim, she accepted that her life was complete. But that didn't mean she gave up. Instead, she went to work every day to treat the animals she'd come to care so desperately about. "In a weird way I think it healed me," Oliveira says. Although she wouldn't advise anyone — man or his four-legged best friend — to abandon chemotherapy for a petting zoo, Oliveira thinks there is something inherently therapeutic in caring for animals. She's been in remission since 2008 and is, as always, working full time in the clinic she opened back in 2001. Oliveira vaccinates, microchips, conducts surgeries, and advises owners on preventive care for their pets in her South Miami clinic. When she's not working, you can find her at home caring for her two daughters, two dogs, and four cats.