SUSAN LOVE, A SURGEON WHO GAINED PROMINENCE as a vocal advocate for people with breast cancer, died July 2 in Los Angeles at age 75. The cause of death was a recurrence of leukemia, according to an obituary on the Dr. Susan Love Foundation for Breast Cancer Research website.

In 1990, Love co-wrote Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book, a volume that has been called the bible for breast cancer patients and has sold nearly half a million copies. Love was a co-founder of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, a prominent patient advocacy organization, in 1991. She directed breast clinics in Boston and Los Angeles and through the years advocated for less-invasive breast cancer treatments, including the use of partial mastectomies or lumpectomies rather than removal of the entire breast.

In the mid-1990s, Love retired from active surgery and became the medical director of what was then the Santa Barbara Breast Cancer Institute. It was later renamed the Dr. Susan Love Foundation for Breast Cancer Research and is now based in Los Angeles.


Love was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in 2012 but underwent a successful bone marrow transplant that allowed her to continue her work.

Susan Love speaking with patient advocates after a mentorship session at ​the 2019 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium Photo by Marci A. Landsmann

In 2013, Love spoke with Cancer Today about her leukemia diagnosis and her role in breast cancer patient advocacy. She offered advice for cancer patients based on her personal and professional experiences.

“People diagnosed with cancer need to educate themselves about the key issues for their type of cancer, find the best place they can to get treatment and hand their treatment over to a doctor or team they trust,” she said. “Once they choose a doctor and decide on a treatment plan, they need to just relax and let it go. Worrying doesn’t help.”

Asked how her cancer diagnosis had affected her view of life, she responded, “I encourage everyone to live every day to the fullest—whether that means doing something to change the world, traveling or drinking good wine. I’ve lived my life that way and have no regrets.”

Kevin McLaughlin is the executive editor of Cancer Today.