Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Susan M. Love, Groundbreaking Surgeon and Breast Health Advocate

Fenway Health joins the entire health care community in mourning the passing of Dr. Susan M. Love, a gifted surgeon and trailblazing breast cancer advocate, who died Sunday at the age of 75 at her home in Los Angeles.

Dr. Love was a groundbreaking surgeon, author, researcher, and activist. Through her medical prowess and tireless advocacy, she singlehandedly played an outsized role in reshaping the standards and best practices for breast cancer screening and treatment.

At a time when most surgeons were male, and female patients rarely felt empowered to ask questions about their care, Dr. Love pushed against traditional breast cancer treatment practices and encouraged women to be informed advocates for their own health.

Her 1990 book, the best-selling “Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book,” has long been considered the go-to resource for people living with breast cancer. Dr. Love co-founded the National Breast Cancer Coalition, and she was the Chief Visionary Officer of the nonprofit Dr. Susan Love Foundation, which finances and leads breast cancer research, until her passing.

As someone who always brought her whole self to her work, Dr. Love was an out and proud lesbian during an era when being openly gay entailed very serious personal and professional risks.

Dr. Susan Love and her wife Dr. Helen Cooksey at the 2019 Dinner Party. Photo credit: Marilyn Humphries

Dr. Love was a much-respected pillar of the Fenway Health community. She was the awardee at our first Fenway Dinner Party in 1992. For over two decades after that first event, the highlight of every Fenway Health Dinner Party was the presentation of our Dr. Susan M. Love Award, which honored a woman or organization that has made a significant contribution to the field of women’s health. Dr. Love often presented the annual award personally, and sent videos and messages of support in years when she could not attend.

Dr. Love is survived by her wife, Dr. Helen Sperry Cooksey; their daughter, Katie Patton-LoveCooksey; two sisters, Christine Adcock and Elizabeth Love; and a brother, Michael James Love. Fenway Health sends condolences to her family, friends, and community near and far.

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