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Susan Love, EMBA '98 // Breast Cancer Advocate


Dr. Susan Love

How do you spend your time?

Last year I was diagnosed with leukemia, so the answer to that question is different than it used to be. I’m now very cognizant of the fact that we don’t know how much time we have. We’ve recently brought in a new executive director, which will allow me to go back to being the Chief Visionary Officer, which is much more apropos to my role. Ideally, I’d like to spend a couple days a week writing, another day or two on research and then play.

What’s your assessment of the breast cancer advocacy movement?
When we started the advocacy movement there wasn’t a lot of awareness or research attention on breast cancer. The goal of the advocacy movement has been to increase awareness, and when the NFL wears pink, it achieves awareness. We need to find the cause and end it.But there’s been progress. We recently collaborated with Susan G. Komen and the Young Survivors Coalition and crowd-sourced answers to the question “What is the collateral damage from your treatment?” The answers ranged from chemo-brain to neuropathy to premature menopause to financial ruin. It’s not just money, but also the physical consequences resulting from treatment that is often overlooked by the “pink culture.”

What is the difference between a cure and the eradication of breast cancer?

The model in my brain is cervical cancer. When I started out it was a mystery. When women had it they’d have a hysterectomy. Then we found it was sexually-transmitted, and then we learned it was a virus and now we have a vaccine. If we could figure out the cause for breast cancer, we could end it.

Have there been any new breakthroughs?
First, there’s been a general recognition in the cancer community that we’ve been looking in the wrong place. We’ve been looking at cells, now we’re mapping DNA. The other breakthrough is really recent, some preliminary research regarding bacteria and viruses in the breast. It showed that this bacteria is protective and that there is less incidence in people that have it. It makes sense.