HOLLYWOOD - Dr. Lisa Masterson is one of those women who's done it all, and almost all at once. But the obstetrician-gynecologist who represents the distaff side on the syndicated TV show "The Doctors" did it the hard way.
She married her first year of medical school, had her son the second year, and then heard the worst news of her life. Her mother, who'd been her muse and mentor all her life, was dying of breast cancer.
Masterson had a brother, 13 years her junior, and when her mom became ill for the second time, they moved in with Masterson and her family. "It was very difficult being a physician and not being able to save her," she says.
"That's one of my biggest disappointments in life ... I'd give anything if that never happened. I was told when she had about a year left. So when I got that information, she moved in with us. And when my mother passed, my husband and I tried to raise my brother," she says.
"But I was in residency then, so I wasn't around a lot. And he rebelled. His mother had just passed away, and he rebelled at me trying to raise him."
Her brother was sent to live with his stepfather, but Masterson was having trouble coping with the grief herself.
It was her mother who'd first inspired her to greater things. A divorced mom, she raised Lisa alone.
"I was very, very studious, very driven. I skipped fourth grade. I always wanted to be the best in school and that was the drive. My mother always said to give 110 percent and that's what I did."
With her mother's passing, Masterson recalls, "I almost didn't make it from my mother's loss. I stopped eating afterwards and my family were all worried about me - I was that close to my mother - whether I would be able to go on after her loss. And my son was the one who actually made that happen. He came to me and said, 'You need to be my mother now.' I sort of equated that with my mother being there for me and my child now needed me in that way. He was 3. He's like that to this day," she smiles.
"He's taught me many, many things. I don't know who raises who, really. "
Her son is 21 now and graduating this month. Her brother is also graduating, a time for celebration, she thinks.
Divorced, she says she and her ex remain friends. Besides filming "The Doctors," she maintains her private practice and is on-call on weekends. She's also a tireless advocate for women's issues and travels to various countries in Africa in an effort to stem maternal mortality.
She conducts seminars on adolescent sexuality, penned a guidebook for teenage girls about their body changes and has written a book about her own journey.
"I've been so fortunate to have the people around me," she sighs. "I met my husband in college. We practically grew up together. I was fortunate to have the woman of the year or the century for a mom, and my grandmother was also a phenomenal woman. And to have the support of my husband from college on and then my son, I probably could do even more if my mom was still around. I would say I've had people who've always been in my corner. So any time I felt maybe not so confident, they've been right there to push me back up and that's what you need in life."
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