Susan Love, MD, MBA: February 9, 1948 - July 2, 2023
Dr. Susan Love, a groundbreaking presence who had a major impact on breast cancer care during her time at UCLA Health and beyond, died July 2, 2023, at age 75. The cause of death was announced as recurrent leukemia.
Dr. Love was an outspoken critic of medicine’s approach to breast cancer treatment in the late 20th Century, becoming an early proponent of a patient-first approach. She questioned what she called “slash, burn, and poison,” which was how she labeled treatment that prioritized surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. She was an early advocate of empowering patients, disrupting the status quo by unapologetically calling for breast conserving treatment.
Love was trained to be a breast surgeon at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital, after which she founded the Faulkner Breast Center at Faulkner Hospital in Boston. In 1992, she was recruited to establish what would become the Revlon/UCLA Breast Center. In 1996, she stopped performing surgery and in 1998, she earned a business degree from the Executive MBA program at UCLA Anderson School of Management. That same year, she was appointed to the National Cancer Advisory Board while remaining a clinical professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She founded the Dr. Susan Love Foundation for Breast Cancer Research, where she built and oversaw an active research program the sought to explore the causes and prevention of breast cancer. In 1990 authored the Susan Love Breast Cancer Book.
Love was a role model and powerful voice in expanding the right of same-sex couples in marriage and building families. In 1993, she and her partner Dr. Helen Cooksey, who would marry in 2004, made history by being approved for the first joint adoption by a gay couple from the Massachusetts, which did not recognize same-sex marriage at the time.
In 2012, Love was diagnosed with leukemia, taking a leave of absence to undergo chemotherapy, which put the cancer into remission. Love returned to work the following year.
“Dr. Susan Love was an extraordinary pioneer in the field of women's health, a fierce advocate for breast cancer prevention, and a visionary leader,” said John C. Mazziotta, MD, PhD, Vice Chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences and CEO of UCLA Health. “Her groundbreaking work challenged the status quo and transformed the landscape of breast cancer research. Dr. Love's unwavering commitment to empowering patients and advancing our understanding of the disease opened our eyes and moved us forward. Her legacy will continue to inspire and guide the breast cancer community in our pursuit of a future free from breast cancer."
Dr. Love us survived by her wife, Helen Cooksey, MD, and their daughter Katie Patton-LoveCooksey.