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Breast Cancer Pioneer Dr. Susan Love On Being the Doctor and Becoming a Patient

Dr. Susan Love knew she wanted to be a surgeon, but she also knew that she didn't want to become a breast surgeon because she believed she could handle the big "macho" surgeries, that only men were given.

However, as a practicing female surgeon in the 1970s, she was only given female patients and quickly learned that women weren't being treated well.

"I started to realize how women weren't getting information. If they came in with a lump or what they thought was a lump, the doctor would say, 'Don't worry your little head about that, dear.'"

That's when Dr. Love realized what she needed to do.

"It soon became apparent to me that what started as a career was really going to be a mission … I think we can do it. I think we can be the generation that stops breast cancer and that's what drives me."

Along with founding the Faulkner Breast Center in Boston and the Revlon UCLA Breast Center in Los Angeles, she founded the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, a foundation dedicated to achieving a future without breast cancer by engaging the public and the scientific communities in innovative research on cause and prevention.

As president of the foundation, she oversees an active $4 million dollar research program centered on breast cancer cause and prevention.

She served on President Clinton's cancer advisory board, set up a research foundation and wrote a book on breast cancer for clinicians and counselors.

And in June of 2012, like many women, she was feeling and doing fine when her diagnosis came.

Dr. Love began fighting her own battle, a battle with Leukemia.

But her diagnosis has motivated her even more in her mission to find the cause for diseases.

"If anything, having cancer myself has given me a new sense of urgency," Dr. Love told the Los Angeles Times.

"We have a limited number of days in our lives — you become more aware of that — and if I'm going to spend them coming to work, then I'm not going to be just diddling around.”

This October, the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation introduced "ImPatient Science," a new educational program explaining the science of breast cancer.

Learn more about it in the video below:

"This is the mission I was given. This is my role in this life and I’m going to do it if it kills me."

NEXT: Women Will Change Medicine »

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Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris via Getty Images