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Apr 24

Dr. Lisa Masterson

Dr. Lisa Masterson of “The Doctors” says she thought long and hard before deciding to include the most bitter aspects of her bittersweet childhood in her new “Paper Dollhouse” memoir.  She paints a vivid picture of her late mother as relentless, beguiling and daring, finding ways to see to it that — despite being a single mother with little money — Lisa could get into top private schools, mingle with the elite and achieve her dreams.  But she also shows that among other things, her mother, on occasion, had her strip and then beat her until she bled.

“I really wanted to portray her as a hero,” says the USC-trained OB/GYN, who is on staff at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.  “Heroes are human beings.  They have all the shortcomings and humanity that everyone else does.  You can still be a good person and an amazing person and not be perfect.  You can go down the wrong road.”  Of those awful episodes of being hit with a belt, she says, “She never meant it maliciously; it was a vent.”

Dr. Lisa is also unsparing of herself in parts of the book.  Feeling threatened by an also-smart Asian girl during her school days, she became downright malicious toward her — something she still feels badly about.  “It’s the same thing.  If I’m going to tell the whole story about my mother, I’m going to share this about me,” she says.

Her hope is that fans see her story in a wider sense, as a story of a black woman and her daughter determined to achieve the American dream — using every bit of wits, wherewithal and wiles they possessed to make it happen.

Which it certainly did.  Dr. Lisa’s long list of accomplishments includes not only television fame and a thriving private practice, but speaking before the UN on issues of women’s health in developing nations, founding the first OB/GYN residency program in sub-Saharan Africa, and starting birthing clinics in Kenya and India.

“You see a woman with a lot of education sitting in front of you, one who fought very much against racism and sexism.  It has not been an easy road here,” she says.  “I have scrambled for what I’ve achieved.  But I’m also showing that I got started in medicine as a candy striper because I didn’t want to babysit my baby brother.”

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Oct 31

Dr. Lisa in Africa, "The Doctors" photo

Imagine, doctors in developing countries being trained in online classes rather than going to med schools in foreign countries — and, statistics show, often remaining abroad instead of returnnig to impoverished homelands.  In fact, such use of technology is moving into reality now, according to “The Doctors”  Dr. Lisa M. Masterson.   And she ought to know, because her Maternal Fetal Care International (MFCI) organization is making it happen.

Dr. Masterson founded the firstOB/GYN residency program in sub-Saharan Africa, in Eritrea, in addition to starting birthing clinics in Kenya and India. “Instead of spending the $6,000 it would cost to fly me there, I’m going to teach classes by Skype and then donate that money toward equipment,” she explains.

Dr. Lisa M. Masterson

The remarkable medico can move with seeming ease from seeing patients in her private practice in Santa Monica, to her work as a staff physician (at L.A.’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica and UCLA), to chatting with celebrity moms on TV about potty training toddlers on “The Doctors” — to addressing the United Nations. In fact, a segment on her recent speech before the U.N. is being included on Tuesday’s (11/2) edition of “The Doctors.”

“I literally think my whole body was on edge,” before her address, admits the attractive Masterson. “My mission was just to try to open people’s eyes as much as possible. The response was overwhelming — so many people were asking me about my charity and what I do, and how to work together.”

Masterson’s efforts toward decreasing maternal and infant mortality
rates fit perfectly into the U.N.’s millennial goals, which is why she’s already
working with the international organization. Sometimes, she says, “The answer is in the palm of our hand, and it quite literally is. Technology has made equipment like the ultrasound that’s the size of a cell phone. There are fetal monitors that women can take with them, that allow doctors to monitor women from hospitals or offices.  Well, how come we can’t monitor a woman from Africa, then?  We’re testing it out here.”

Dr. Lisa, as she’s known to “The Doctors” fans, has an autobiography coming out next year, and it’s bound to be gripping.  “Sometimes it’s difficult to go back over painful times, but going through them that’s how I got to where I am.  Because I’m doing so much of what I want to do, some people have the idea I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth or something like that, but I wasn’t,” she says.   She admits it wasn’t easy to open up, that it’s not her personality.  However, she adds, “I had a lot of great female role models in my life.  On the show, I’m the only woman.   If telling my story can inspire a lot of girls to know that they can achieve their goals, it will be well worth it.”

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