Dr. Susan Love, a treasured ally and adviser to Breast Cancer Action and many in our community, died this past Sunday from a recurrence of leukemia.
In addition to her groundbreaking scientific contributions as a surgeon, author and researcher, Dr. Love was a fierce activist in the breast cancer movement and beyond.
She advocated for patient-centered changes to breast cancer treatment best practices, including surgery that retained as much breast tissue as possible and the use of radiation and systemic therapies over surgery. As described by the New York Times, “In an era when surgeons were overwhelmingly male and deference by their female patients was still expected, she exhorted women to ask hard questions about their treatment.”
“Dr. Love is best known for pioneering work fueled by her criticism of the medical establishment’s paternalistic treatment of women.” (Dr. Susan Love Foundation)
Originally released in 1990 and currently in its 7th edition, Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book is considered “the bible” for people with breast cancer. It’s written in a straightforward and compassionate style, and is easily understood by a non-scientific audience, pointing to how Dr. Love centered the inclusion of people with breast cancer in her work.
As an activist for the lgbtqia2s+ community, she championed the rights of same sex couples as parents, and “made history by getting approval for the first joint adoption by a gay couple from the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, a state that did not recognize same-sex marriage at the time.” (Dr. Susan Love Foundation).
Over the last 20 years, both through her contributions to the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, as well as her pioneering work through her Foundation, Breast Cancer Action has integrated Dr. Love’s expertise into our work, and has been guided by her relentless dedication to the breast cancer movement. Dr. Love was featured, along with our first Executive Director Barbara Brenner, in the movie Pink Ribbons, Inc, and more recently was a reviewer for our Toolkit to Navigate Breast Cancer.
We are immensely grateful for the many opportunities we had to collaborate with Dr. Love through the years. As an organization, we have been made better and stronger for it. We will continue to honor her and her work by remaining steadfast in our focus on ACTION over awareness. We will continue Dr. Love’s legacy of transforming systems and policies toward our shared vision of a world free from breast cancer.