In May 2021, The Dr. Susan Love Foundation, one of the top breast cancer research organizations in the United States, announced that every year, August 18th would be known as World Breast Cancer Research Day. The 18th was chosen as a representation of the 1 in 8 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. The Foundation also wanted the day to be apart from Breast Cancer Awareness month, which is October, as awareness, patient support, and research need to be highlighted throughout the year. Dr. Susan Love, founder of the Dr. Susan Love Foundation, recently passed away from recurrent leukemia on July 2, 2023. She was a pioneering breast cancer researcher, advocate, surgeon, and fierce critic of the medical field’s historically patriarchal system and paternalistic treatment of women. Some of her many accomplishments include:
- As a founder of the breast cancer advocacy movement in the early 1990s, she helped organize the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC).
- She was appointed by President Clinton to the National Cancer Advisory Board, a position she held from 1998-2004.
- For 13 years she convened the International Symposium of the Human Breast, a meeting she established to bring together world-class researchers, clinicians, and advocates from multiple disciplines in an intimate think-tank environment to stimulate ideas, collaboration, and seed-funding opportunities for breast cancer research.
- The Love Research Army, which she launched in 2008, creatively accelerated cancer research by partnering volunteers and scientists for clinical trials and cancer research. The Army now has more than 390,000 supporters worldwide.
Research into breast cancer and its treatments has evolved in leaps and bounds since the first recorded radical mastectomy performed by William Halstead in 1882. Here’s a brief, non-exhaustive look at the medical and research timeline for breast cancer.