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Martha Lucero, D.D.S.

With faith and unstoppable determination, Dr. Marta Lucero is eager to continue learning and to keep current in her field; she strives for excellence. Once in the US, she promptly validated her professional credentials at UCLA, she opened offices, and adopted a holistic approach to treat her patients. Her practice is inspired by a comprehensive and humanistic vision. Dr. Lucero transcends borders bringing healing and dignity to those in great need through the Apóstoles de la Salud (Apostles of Health); she conducts seminars and enriches her peers. She is the first Latina in getting a degree on dental implants, along with the dentist that works with her. Caring, generous and spiritual, Marta Lucero sends her message of hope through radio, articles, poems and actions, and she will not rest until her dream of building a free hospital in Tijuana becomes a reality.  A hospital to mitigate and heal the pain so an entire community in need could stand for themselves, strong and healthy.

Dr. Martha Lucero was born in Mexico City, Distrito Federal, and she is the youngest of six siblings.

Her father is from Mexico City and her mother from Michoacán. Her mother emigrated to the Distrito Federal with the entire family, not as much as for escaping revolution but for the “Cristeros” She also lost her father at an early age, three of her brothers entered priesthood. Her family was very religious. “One of those uncles was very influential in my life, he was highly educated. Part of this education he received in Spain. My mother regarded education as the foundation and very important” says Dr. Lucero.

Her father graduated from high school in the US, and held different jobs. He also took some automotive mechanics classes, but then he returned to Mexico and decided to attend dental school. He never practiced, he did not like to be inside in the office all the time, it was not his thing. Finally, he ended up working as a guide tour. “I don’t blame him, dentistry requires a great deal of dedication, and be inside all the time wasn’t for him. However, he grew up surrounded by dentists, like me. I’ve been in contact with this profession since I was a child” says the doctor.

“To my mother the ideal was for us to enter dental school. She said it was the perfect career for a woman because it allowed her to stay at home, have a practice, and take care of her family. Many women follow this path and that is what I did. After graduating I opened  an office at home, with my sister” says Dr. Lucero.

 

Which of your siblings is the closest to you?

In reality, none. We weren’t a very close family, I was the youngest and my siblings were at school. My oldest brother and I are 14 years apart, he is a medical doctor. My second brother entered the seminary at 16. The others also follow their own path. As for my sister, she’s four years older than me. She got married very young, too, like me. However, nowadays I am very close with her. As women, we do identify with each other.

 

Your family was not a typical one: all the children attended college!

We all attended the university. Education was of outmost importance, we were all dedicated to our careers. I always saw everyone busy, it was logical to be studying because my life was studying and the spiritual life. My mother really focused on providing us with a solid spiritual foundation. We used to spend weekends at church with my uncle. That was our environment, between philosophy, theology, and family. They were very open, and had many friends. I remember going always to Michoacán for our vacations, where we had a couple of uncles that were priests.

What are your middle school memories?

That was a lovely time. I attended an all girls school, it was a nuns school. I have a friend, Rosa, with whom I keep friendship. She was a super dedicated student, very intelligent. We used to sit together to study, she inspired me a lot.

 

Do you remember any teacher in particular?

Yes, the physics teacher. He was very strict, it was a challenge for me. I really like literature. School was not easy, although I had very good grades. Having Rosa as my friend was very special, she helped me a great deal because she was very disciplined, and besides we had much fun together.

 

What’s the name of your middle school?

Las Rosas, and the high school, Instituto Pedagógico Anglo-Español, it was also catholic and only for girls. There, I remembered my biology teacher, she was part of my inspiration. High school was more difficult, an I was not a very dedicated student. I needed my friend Rosa, I missed her a lot.

 

What did you study?

I really loved psychology. I was also passionate about dance, but my mother’s pressure was big. She was very determined, she looked at pros and cons, and I was an obedient daughter. She used to say: “Psychology, no”! She did not believe neither in psychology, nor in dance, at all! I studied Polynesian dances and tap dance, anyway. I love dancing. I was very attracted to psychology, the mind fascinated me, and I know that in my career as a dentist there is a little bit of everything: much art, much psychology, manual skills. Besides, what I didn’t know I knew I could develop.

 

When did you start college?

At 17. I was sent to school at a very young age so I graduated at 16. I would have started college right  away, but there was a strike and I had to wait one more year. I started at 17. My goal was very clear: nonstop until I am done.

 

What university did you attend?

The Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM. It was a radical change for me, from a girls private school and nuns, to a public university, with tons of boys I wasn’t used to be around. Yes, it was different. However, I was already in a relationship.

 

When do you meet your boyfriend?

I was 14, at a family gathering, he was somehow related to my family. I get married after my first year of attending college. He was older than me and I think he thought he needed to propose to me right away, because it would be ‘now or never’ I could say, “Yes” to him. I felt really mature and thought this could be a positive and happy marriage.

 

What was your mother’s opinion?

I honestly believed she’d oppose, but she didn’t. It was important to her for me to find a decent, morally similar and good person, and we got carried away with that.

 

Martha gets married at 18, attends the university, her first son is born the next year, and during her last college year, a beautiful daughter is born. At 21, she already has a professional degree, a family with two children, the commitment to take care of them, and at the same time, to start her dental practice. She regretted not continuing with more training. She needed to meet her goals to perfection, taking care of her home, her practice, her family and her future patients.

 

What do you do next?

My family and I lived in an apartments building. We were in the second floor and I opened my practice in the first floor apartment. My mother helped us to establish. My sister and I started together; she had three children and I had two. I was very content performing all my roles, although I knew I needed to continue my professional development and I should have worked with an established dentist to gain experience. My sister didn’t have professional experience either.  This motivated my decision of accepting the opportunity to come to the United States.

 

Why are you coming here?

My husband lost his job in Mexico. His parents lived in California, so he proposed me to come here for a while and then return to Mexico. He is an only child, and he wanted to come where his parents were and learn English. My children were having too many health issues in Mexico City, allergies, but after moving here they began to feel better and their allergies totally disappear.

They arrive in Santa Ana, where her in-laws lived. As they were getting settled, the doctor begins to learn English. She was thrilled for this so deserved break, after so much pressure from family and working in Mexico.

“I began to learn English. Then, I find out how to revalidate my degree. Meanwhile, the father of my children also studies, he establishes himself and becomes a US resident. Our children were doing good and we decided to stay” says the doctor.

 

How old were the children?

Four and five, so they grow up here and I instilled in them the need of a good education, as my other did with me.

 

Dr. Lucero studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA, and obtained her license to practice as dentist in the United States in1987. She opens her first dental practice in 1988, in Santa Ana, and five years later a second one in Garden Grove, both in Orange County. The doctor notices the connection between mind and body in her patients, and she starts to offer them holistic analyses and more comprehensive planning for each treatment, for them to improve, not only their oral health, but also the quality of their smiles and overall lives. Dr. Lucero continues her professional development and attends prestigious trainings to keep herself abreast with the latest advancements in the different specialties of Odontology. After practicing Orthodontics and Orthopedics in the US, successfully, for over 15 years, Dr. Lucero is conferred a diploma by the International Congress of Dentists Specialized in Implants, and she has become the first

Latino woman in achieving this degree, along Dr. Blanca Zamora who works with her.

 

Dr. Lucero feels very proud of providing her patients with comprehensive general dental and cosmetic care, without the need of referring them to any other specialist. She counts with an excellent team of specialists, dental lab specialists, and providers, who collaborate to bring back self-confidence to her patients, and their ability to transform their lives with a beautiful smile. Orthodontics and Implants are the highlights of her practices, although General Odontology is also widely provided.

 

“To be part of it, to see, live, and achieve these transformations have made me a person with a sensitivity similar to the artist that shapes his painting. I believe this is what has motivated me to share all these experiences, emotions, and knowledge through my writing, the radio, seminars and international projects” says Dr. Lucero.

 

The doctor is very proud of her children. “The oldest graduated with a medical degree from Harvard University, and he has specialized in internal medicine. Then, he studied Cardiology at Stanford. He loves teaching, the hospital practice, and he has also specialized in Heart Electro-Physiology. He lives in San Francisco, he is 36 and married to a Bolivian who is a psychologist. He was doing research in Bolivia for 10 years, and fell in love with the culture, he’s more Bolivian than Mexican now” she says with happiness. The doctor has two daughters, the oldest is 35, lives in Massachusetts; she is a psychologist and psychotherapist, and she continues specializing; she’s married and very happy. The youngest one was born here, she’s 26. “That child has really liked to enjoy life, but she continues her education. She was very successful during the real estate booming. After that, she came to work with me and we took a training in marketing together. Now, she is studying Business and I support her” says the doctor.

 

Dr. Lucero started teaching seminars after getting her diploma in implants. Some of her nephews came to attend dental school here, and she discovered her talent to train other  dentists which triggered the idea of giving seminars. She needed to do some implants to her daughter’s spouse, and took the opportunity of performing the procedure in front of other dentists for them to learn, the same way she had learned. Thus, she started this teaching in her office in 2007.

During her marriage, her husband never accepted the idea of ‘wasting time’ going to Tijuana, nor for her to develop any of the so many projects she’s now completing one by one. On the same day she got divorced, Mario, the lab technician that has worked with her for over 20 years, asks her if she could go to Tijuana to help a woman that needed dentures. Mario belongs to a missionary group of Radio Guadalupe. In a mission in Tijuana, in January 2010, the radio station had a big event named Hombre Nuevo (New Man) where that woman asked for help. Mario said he will do the job but he needed a dentist. He immediately thought of Dr. Ulcer. “Of course I’m interested, it’s my dream!” she answered, and right there the search began for a place where to provide dental care and human dignity to the most needy.

 

They visit with some religious women from a very poor community, El Niño (The Child), where people live in deplorable conditions, but the nuns recommend them to visit the San Eugenio Clinic because it counts with dentists, doctors, ophthalmologists; they thought it would be a more suitable place to work. Dr. Lucero and Mario immediately went to see the clinic, and very excited she shares with the Sister Director her goal of providing free dental care. The Sister, not very friendly, makes clear to the doctor she can only give some talks and examine their patients because there, they pay for the services, “If we don’t charge them, we’d be going against their dignity” she said. After much asking, she was allowed to do the dentures for that person who resorted to Radio Guadalupe for help. “I gave a conference, we examined her, and nothing else, but seeing so many people in need, we left unconsoled” says the doctor.

 

They learned of a convent in Tecate, in Monte Tabor, which was a sublime place, “the nuns live in contemplation and take care of the poor. The founder was Mother Teresa’s friend” they said.  Doctors were coming there to see patients every three months. One day, a patient had a dental emergency they could not solve. The Sisters started praying for a dentist.

“On that very day we arrived. Next to the convent there was an empty little house that doctors use to see patients. There, I see a very old dental chair that someone donated years ago. To me that chair was a sign. Suddenly, they call me, ‘Doctor, come out!’, and we all witness something unforgettable: a magnificent sunset, the sun dancing in waves surrounded by a halo as it was disappearing in the horizon. It was spectacular and unbelievable, I had never seen the sun moving in that way, it was as a message. I had heard that happened in Medjugorje, Bosnia, and in Lourdes where the Virgin appeared. Our group was made up of 12 people and I felt that was another sign. In that moment, we decided to found a non-for profit organization, and name it Apóstoles de la Salud (Apostles of Health). My heart and mind stayed in that place. Back at home, I called one of my nephews. Some years ago I had sent him an equipment for endodontics and orthodontics implants, and an RX dental chair thinking he would one day use them. When I learned he didn’t, I asked him to send them back” says the doctor.

When they come back, ready to establish, the Sisters of Monte Tabor feel not quite sure about letting them perform any job. “I felt very sad because I had already foreseen there a hospital offering all the services so much needed in that community” she says.

 

They went back to the San Eugenio Clinic, where people without teeth, with chronic infections, cysts, insufferable pains come for help, but the clinic cannot provide them care because of the lack of money or training. They do not perform difficult surgeries because they practice a very limited dental care and are afraid. They do not even examine pregnant women or children.

The doctor tells the nun, “I’m coming to do what you cannot do, and we are not going to charge. We’ll bring all the materials” In view of her determination, the Sister accepts the offer and allows them to use her clinic one Saturday per month. “We start right now” says the pleased doctor.

It has been for one and a half year that the Apóstoles de la Salud, mainly formed by Alicia Valeriano, an incredible being and she works in their clinics, Mario Gonzalez, lab technician, and Dr. Lucero go one Saturday every month to perform surgeries, prothesis, endodontics, braces, and now they already count with an equipment to do implants. See the videos, enter in YouTube and write: apóstoles de la salud.

Dr. Lucero has trained the dentist at the clinic (now she can do surgeries); another dentist in Tijuana, a social worker and friends of the apostles are helping in this humanitarian work, so the doctor thinks to create another organization that could be named Apóstoles de la Salud en México, together with them and local people. Besides, these dentists are very interested in taking seminars with her, as the ones she gives in California since 2007. She also has a project to open a well equipped hospital in Tijuana, totally free. In the meantime, she continues to take food, clothes, and changing not only these people’s mouths, but their self-esteem and the quality of their lives too.

 

Lately, she has confronted some drastic personal changes, “To me, the most important thing is the family, however my children, raised here and professionals very dedicated to their careers, are too much independents. Also the partner has become independent, so I’ve had to march all by myself in the last few years. Today I am enjoying a home again, and a big family of loyal friends that I chose. I feel very fortunate. My children, whom I love, continue growing in their fields as I did in mine, by migrating, moving, and achieving. Nowadays, my next goal is strengthen the organization Apóstoles de la Salud, seeing it very solid, and create another in Mexico. I love serving others because it takes you to new heights, it gives you the great opportunity of helping” says the doctor, convinced.

 

The doctor is learning how to manage her clinics and create other corporations. She understands that marketing is everything, “This is the reason I am so grateful to PARA TODOS because it is there where I began to develop, to have my exposure in the way I wanted to have it seven years ago. I was looking for a fine magazine, where I felt listened to with respect and professionalism, and I found it in PARA TODOS. It fascinated me because it was a great commitment that invited me to grow and do something more professional, more permanent. Writing them was wonderful, because when I graduated in implants I should’ve published articles. Then, I presented my writings from PARA TODOS. Besides, the people have been keeping them for years, it’s very moving!” says the doctor.

 

Along with dictating the professional development seminars, she is working on a book; she has a poetry selection she’ll soon publish, and she loves to do radio. She is on Radio Guadalupe and now on La Rockola, from Santa Ana, every Thursday from 8 to 9 am. The audience calls, it’s live and it’s local. She has also performed transformations in people; there was an event where a group of women willing to get a transformation was selected. There are very moving stories, and she believes that when someone who lacks the means is helped to change, it is an amazing blessing and the reward is strength, skills, “It is my main insurance” says the doctor.

Radio Guadalupe informed us of a woman who has been bedridden for 18 years. To leave the house, she needs an ambulance and a crane, because she’s too heavy; she doesn’t walk and has arthritis. The Apóstoles de la Salud went to treat her with a mobile equipment, “We performed her dental hygiene, some fillings, we’ll make a prothesis for her; it’s just wonderful, those actions fulfill my life. And, when I look around and my genetic family is not there, but I have a large family of friends, my needy people, seeing these brothers who do not have the opportunity of buying the services I can offer, that, makes my life complete” says the doctor.

 

Any special message to your readers

One of my mottos is to transform smiles, but the smiles come from the soul, and in this holistic Odontology I like to practice, you have to smile from the inside out. And, the best way to find that peace, that smile, is through service. When you give unconditionally, you receive back; if you give a smile and you have the ability of inviting people to transform that smile from the inside out, sooner or later, it’ll come back to you. The peace and balance I can offer today, in spite of having had a life of constant struggle, I have achieved through a profound faith. Faith allows you to succeed, to overcome, and to enjoy life, and serve others. Faith guides you until the end, and it is what I learned from my mother.

 

Perhaps, faith grows stronger when one’s undergoes difficult situations.

When I came from Mexico, without knowing the language, with so many expectations, fighting for a legal and foremost intellectual status, to be seen and accepted as a doctor, for what I am and for what I prepared myself to be, I clung to my faith. I invite my readers to forget not where we come from; we bring the pride of our raza, that we are not simply Latinos or foreigners, we are the raza, we are immigrants. This is a very particular people and we are not ordinary immigrant. We have not come to not making it in this land. Discrimination probably exists, but if one’s feels discriminated, one’s not going to meet his goals ever. We must feel that we belong; if we think about it, this was our world even in area. So, we are coming back to what was ours. I assure to my patients, to the people that listen to me or read my articles, that it can be achieved, but they have to be very determined, and not allow to be defeated until they succeed.

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