LOVE LOVE LOVE - The Pink Fund


ALL I NEEDED WAS L O V E, Dr. Susan LoveA Legacy of Love, Dr. Susan Love

HERO to hundreds of thousands of women globally, and a few good men (maybe more) died after a second bout with Leukemia

Dr. Love has been metaphorically perched by my bedside since the early spring of 2005, when the trajectory of my life was interrupted by a single phone call.

Allow me to explain:

It was April 1, 2005, and I was sitting in the back of a cab, after what I thought was a successful meeting with Major League Baseball. The company I had joined was on the short list to get the graphics business for the All-Star Game to be played in my home city, Detroit, that July.  And I had flown to New York to meet with MLB’s VP of Design, to present our proposal.

A couple weeks earlier I had my annual mammogram, which resulted in a call back to schedule a biopsy to ensure that what looked like salt sprinkled in the ducts of my right breast was nothing more than calcifications. With no family history, and never a palpable lump or bump, I never suspected that I would become a member of a sorority no one RUSHES to join.

It was Friday and I was anxious to learn the results, not wanting to worry over the weekend, so I called the office of my OB/GYN who delivered all five of my children, and who, within moments delivered the news that changed my life, FOR GOOD.

And when I say for good, I am in no way implying that a breast cancer diagnosis is good, but what came from it for me and the thousands of women who have been helped by The Pink Fund, the organization, I launched with my husband in 2006, has truly been FOR GOOD.

At that moment, I was not feeling good at all. I was terrified, panicked and on the verge of hysteria. After calling my husband while standing in line at the TSA at LaGuardia, whispering so loudly into the phone “I have breast cancer” at which point those nearby started to distance themselves, as if my disease was contagious, my next phone call was to my friend, Laura Geist, the only breast cancer survivor I knew.

Laura consoled me and told me she would be over first thing in the morning with what she referred to as "The Breast Cancer Bible".

Now this is significant because Laura was a staunch Christian (she died from metastatic breast cancer on my birthday in 2012) who could recite Bible verses from memory all day long and co-authored a book, Praying Through Cancer, published in May of 2006. For Laura to refer to any book as a Bible might be considered heresy. But Laura, who trusted God with all her heart, soul and mind, trusted Dr. Love too. Even the New York Times described her book as “The Bible” for people with breast cancer. So there’s that!

I spent most of that night anxiously fretting and awaiting her early morning arrival.

In 2005, Google was a toddler, and had I searched breast cancer diagnoses, treatment and survival, I am not sure what I would have discovered. So, I had no choice but to wait on Laura.

When Laura arrived with the book, it was, well, what a reseller would describe as in FAIR CONDITION.  Because Laura, like me and all the hundreds of thousands of women who have relied on this book for credible information, turned down corners, highlighted sections, and wrote in the margins.

As did I, when I purchased a copy of my own.

In 2006, Dr. Love came to Detroit to speak at Oakland University, and I of course, purchased a ticket and attended.

She spoke as she always did, explaining breast cancer in ways a 5th grader could understand and using humorous illustrations, like guerilla warfare when describing how breast cancer cells would hide out, years later show up, wreaking havoc in our bodies.

By 2012, The Pink Fund, became a charity partner of Ford Motor Company’s Warriors in Pink and finally had enough money to book Dr. Love to speak at our October luncheon in Detroit. I was THRILLED and EXCITED to share Dr. Love’s life encouraging work.

I had even planned to surprise Dr. Love with a trio of musicians and choir who would as seemingly guests in the audience, stand up one by one, (think flash mob) singing, All You Need is Love.

But it was not to be, as that June Dr. Love received her first leukemia diagnosis.

Once fully recovered, I had the opportunity to visit Dr. Love at the foundation’s West Hollywood offices, where I sat in the board room with her, and we talked about possible collaborations between her research efforts and mine providing financial assistance to help impact treatment adherence and survivorship. While those conversations never came to fruition, The Pink Fund is proud to collaborate with the foundation on other efforts.

In later years I began to represent The Pink Fund at The San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, where advocates like me go to learn about the latest research, and attend evening Hot Topics, presented by the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation, where leading medical experts, including Dr. Love, would help to distill the research presented that day and take questions from the audience. In my opinion, Dr. Love always had the starring role, probably, because honestly, I was starstruck.

Last week in her obituary, and later beautifully acknowledged by Fran Visco, President of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, I learned that Dr. Love was a founder of National Breast Cancer Coalition, an organization on which I have the privilege to sit as a Director. Fran wrote” NBCC would not exist were it not for Susan Love, and her loss is felt deeply across the breast cancer advocacy and research communities.”

You can read her full tribute here.

Those of us who admired her, leaned on her, and believed in her, have suffered a great loss. Fortunately, the foundation she founded and built, is in the capable hands of Christopher Clinton Conway. So, while we have lost Dr. Love, we have not lost the Dr. Susan Love Foundation. And to me this feels like LOVE.


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