There’s the grin, the glasses, the signature short curly hair ― and then there’s the book, universally touted as the bible for women with breast cancer.
Instantly recognizable, sometimes controversial, Dr. Susan Love may just be the most famous cancer advocate on the planet. She's the face and the force behind major advances in breast cancer research and treatment, including the use of lumpectomy over mastectomy and the tracking and documenting of the “collateral damage” of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
A surgeon, researcher, teacher, activist and author, Love is currently the chief visionary officer of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, a clinical professor of surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles and a founder of the National Breast Cancer Coalition. In 2008, she partnered with the Avon Foundation for Women to launch the Army of Women, a cohort of over 375,000 women ready and willing to participate in research. More recently, she worked with Sage Bionetworks, a nonprofit research organization based at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and led by Dr. Stephen Friend, an affiliate investigator in the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutch, to develop Share the Journey, an iPhone “crowdsourcing” app designed to help track the physical, mental and emotional after-effects of breast cancer treatment.
Love is also a cancer survivor. In June 2012, she was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia and went through seven weeks of hospitalized chemotherapy followed by a bone marrow transplant (her “baby sister” was her donor). That experience has both informed her research (particularly with regard to treatment’s impact on patients) and further inspired her to not just treat breast cancer but find the cause and eradicate it completely.
In 1990, the surgeon-turned-survivor published the first edition of her groundbreaking book, “Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book.” This month marks the publication of its sixth edition, a perfect occasion to talk to Love about what’s changed and what hasn’t in the realm of breast cancer research and treatment ― and what she hopes lies ahead.