Breast cancer battle needs your help, says Dr. Susan Love

Susan Love breast cancer
Dr. Susan Love, breast cancer survivor, activist and researcher.

Dr. Susan Love has been on both sides of the examining table: In 2012, the chief visionary officer of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation — which works to eradicate breast cancer with new research approaches — was diagnosed with leukemia. Her cancer is now in remission, but her fight’s not over.

Dr. Love’s foundation is behind the Health of Women study, which polls all types of women for clues into what leads to breast cancer and how we can end it. Participants complete lifestyle surveys a few times a year, providing valuable data to Dr. Love’s team of researchers. “We need everybody, because we need to compare,” she tells us. “It can contribute to our understanding and pushing research.”

Because Dr. Love and her team work to eliminate the disease, we spoke to her about what exactly we need to do to get there.

Are we at all close to winning this war?
No. [Laughs] I don’t think we’re as close as we would like to be. We’re still treating with surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, sometimes targeted drugs — we started that when I started out in the early 1980s. We keep adding drugs, but we don’t ever subtract anything, and our results are a little better, but not great. What I really think we need to do is shift from trying to find exactly what is the gene that’s gone wrong, or the metabolic pathway that’s gone wrong, and fix it, to trying to figure out what are the conditions that cause it in the first place. I think we’ll be much more successful if we go looking for the cause rather than focusing on fixing it after it’s already broken. We have that great example of cancer of the cervix, where we were doing total hysterectomies for abnormal pap smears when I started because we didn’t know what else to do. So you lost your fertility, and had surgery for something that hadn’t even gotten far. It’s sort of like what we do for DCIS [abnormal cells in a breast’s milk duct] today. These mastectomies for DCIS, it’s like doing a hysterectomy for an abnormal pap smear — we don’t know what else to do. Then we figured out that it was sexually transmitted that it was a virus and now we have a vaccine. How much better would that type of approach be for cancer of the breast!

Why is that approach better?
All cancers have mutations in them, but we make lots of mutations in our bodies over the years. We’re exposed to carcinogens all the time — from the radiation in the atmosphere through environmental things, through the sun, through cigarettes — and the reason cancer is more common as you get older is because the longer you live the more chance you have to experience all of these carcinogens and get mutations. But not everybody gets cancer, so it obviously is more than just an abnormal mutation that’s the problem. If you think about, say, kids that grow up in a bad neighborhood, you can either try to capture every kid as they do a crime and put them in jail, or you can look at the conditions of the neighborhood and maybe you clean up, get rid of the gangs, get a farmers market, do all these things we talk about. By changing the neighborhood, [those] same kids will turn out differently — not 100 percent, but a lot.

So what needs to be done?
One of the things that we’re doing here at the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation is putting out the call for people to give us questions to ask in the Health of Women study about the collateral damage [breast cancer] creates. I think [with] people who haven’t had breast cancer, there is a sense that, “Oh, well, you get diagnosed, then you have to have surgery and maybe radiation and chemo, but then you’re back to normal and everything’s great.” And anybody who’s had it will say no. [Laughs] You’re never back to normal — it’s a different reality. … So we’re putting out a call for questions and we’re gonna work with other breast cancer groups this October. Then we’ll put it in the health study and we’ll be able to document what the cost of the cure is and also maybe correlate it with some other things in people’s health. There may be links that haven’t been really looked at because people don’t pay that much attention to them.

What can we do to help?
We really need your generation to help push. We’ve got awareness, we’ve got screening, we have treatments — they’re not great, but we’ve got some treatments and we’re doing better — but let’s just get rid of it. To hell with it! The time’s come to go the next step. Let’s just end it — let’s find the cause and end it. And it’s a doable thing. We’ve done it with other cancers, we can do it with this.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…

National

On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."

Local

New York-based Century 21 store coming to The…

The former Strawbridge & Clothier building will once again host a department store. City officials on Thursday announced New York-based Century 21 Department Stores will…

National

Electric Zoo tickets on sale Tuesday as festival…

Electric Zoo tickets go on sale Tuesday. The festival announced plans to amp up security after two attendees died last year from apparent drug overdoses.

Music

Championship of Collegiate a Cappella: Students who are…

Tickets to this Saturday’s International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella reportedly sold out within 11 hours of going on sale.

Music

M.I.A. talks 'Matangi,' divinity, spontaneity and holograms

"There’s pressure for me to become a theatrical production like 'Glee,' or something" says M.I.A., "It’s like, 'the pressure’s on, bitches.'"

Movies

Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

NBA

Jason Collins named to Time's 100 Most Influential…

Jason Collins was named to the list after coming out as the first openly gay player to appear in an NBA game.

MLB

The return of Cole Hamels brings optimism

Cole Hamels’ quality start Wednesday was a nice change of pace from his recent season debuts.

MLB

Tony Gwynn Jr. a nice surprise for Phillies

Tony Gwynn Jr. has been a plus in every way for the Phillies.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

Food

Hai Street Kitchen opening in Rittenhouse May 22

Japanese cuisine will get a Chipotle-style twist at Hai Street Kitchen & Co., a new casual, quick-food restaurant opening near Rittenhouse Square on May 22.…

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.