A month has gone by since Dr. Susan Love died from a recurrence of her leukemia. However, her presence is with me and my colleagues every day. It is in the work we do, it is in the donors and supporters we speak with, many of whom are checking in on me and our staff, which is beyond lovely.
Dr. Susan Love was not just a colleague, but a friend to me. Working at her Foundation has been one of the greatest honors of my career. When I started at the Dr. Susan Love Foundation in February 2015, I was SO intimated by her. This was a woman who had numerous New York Times best-selling books, a long career as a trailblazing female surgeon, someone who worked with President Bill Clinton, and an all-around superstar in the breast cancer space. When I would write grants and add her CV, it was pages and pages long with publications and accomplishments. It took me two years to even feel comfortable calling her Susan and not Dr. Love out of respect for her and her achievements.
But what makes Susan Susan, is her warmth, her smile, how witty she was and how welcoming she was to anyone that worked for her, approached her, attended a conference or speaking engagement in her honor, and her fierce intellect. I remember the first SABCS I attended with her. I was shocked by the number of people that would come up to us, pull me aside, and ask “Is that THE Susan Love? Can I say hi and get a picture?” Susan always said yes. I had no concept of her celebrity in the breast cancer space, but she always stopped to chat when someone recognized her or asked a question about their own diagnosis. She was just a woman, whose Foundation I went to work for, who would walk down the hall and pop in my office to chit chat or who would come up with a research idea and say to me “Ok, let’s find some money for this. We can get support, we can do this, it’s a great idea.” That’s the thing about Susan. She had incredible ideas!
Publicly she was an innovator, an advocate, a surgeon, a researcher, and a phenomenal public speaker while also being a mother, sister, and wife. But to those of us who had the honor of working with her, she was just Susan. A woman who wanted so desperately to see the end of breast cancer in her lifetime and who worked so tirelessly to make patient’s lives better. She committed so much of her life to helping others. Beyond her work, she loved talking about her daughter Katie and the amazing trips she would take with her wife, Helen. They both loved to travel!
Susan, you will be greatly missed and your void in my life will be felt for years to come. We will continue to honor your legacy by fighting to end breast cancer. We love and miss you, Susan!