Woman Making History #50: Susan Love

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Susan_Love.jpgDr. Susan Love was born in 1948, the eldest of five children. Love studied pre-med at the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, but did not graduate, leaving after two years to take residence in a New York City convent. A bit later, Love left the convent and returned to her studies, enrolling in Fordham College, where she took her B.S. in 1970. Love then got her M.D. from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, graduating cum laude.

Love went on to a surgical residency at Beth Israel Hospital in New York, ending up chief resident by 1979, which was almost unheard of for a woman at the time. She then became the hospital's first female staff surgeon. Over the course of the next decades, Love continued to break barriers for women. She taught at Harvard Medical School from 1980 to 1992.

Slowly, Love began to focus on women's health, and particularly on breast health. She says this is because female patients were routed to her due to her gender, and after seeing a few of them, it became clear they were not being treated very well elsewhere. In particular, Love was dismayed at how little information patients were given about their bodies and their treatment options. In 1981, Love became a member of the Breast Evaluation Clinic at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and in 1988 she went on to found the Faulkner Breast Center, the first medical institution in the country with a multi-disciplinary all-female staff.

In 1990, Dr. Love co-wrote what has become the standard book on breast health, Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book. The book has been revised and reprinted four times since its initial release. The same year, Love helped to found the National Breast Cancer Coalition, an organization for which she still serves as director. The grassroots group's mission is to advance research and increase comprehensive, patient-centered care. Since its development, federal funding for breast cancer has increased over 800 percent.

Through the 1990s, Dr. Love continued to help found breast cancer institutes and teach other doctors. She was the founding director of the Revlon/UCLA Breast Center, then became the medical director of the Santa Barbara Breast Cancer Institute, later renamed the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation.

Dr. Love has won numerous awards for her work. She also co-wrote a second book, Dr. Susan Love's Menopause and Hormone Book, in 1998, and served on the National Cancer Advisory Board from 1998 to 2004.

Recently, Dr. Love has focused her work on advocacy and the development of better diagnostic tools for breast cancer.

Sources:
Harry Walker Agency
My Hero Project
WomenOf.com

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