Dr. Sue Friedman was practicing small animal medicine in south Florida in 1996 when she was diagnosed “out of the blue” at age 33 with what appeared to be sporadic breast cancer. At the time, she was unaware of any familial risk factors for hereditary cancer. After her treatment, however, Sue realized from an article about hereditary breast cancer that she had several indications for a mutation. She pursued genetic counseling, and in 1997 she tested positive for a BRCA2 mutation.
Shocked that her health care team didn’t alert her to the possibility of being at high risk, and disappointed at having to make critical treatment decisions without knowing of her mutation, Sue acted so others could benefit from her misfortune. She founded FORCE in 1999 to fill the information void for individuals and families with hereditary cancer, and to help them advocate for themselves. Sue is co-author of the book Confronting Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer which was published by Johns Hopkins Press February 2012. Under her direction, FORCE has grown into the de facto voice of the hereditary breast and ovarian cancer community, filling the unique and unmet support needs for those who are navigating risk management and treatment decisions.
With FORCE, no one needs to face hereditary breast and ovarian cancer alone. After five years as the organization’s executive director and maintaining her own busy practice, Sue left veterinary medicine to direct FORCE full-time. Since then, the organization has established itself as an unequaled source of research, advocacy, support, and information regarding risk management, prevention, and awareness. In 2004, Sue relocated her family and FORCE headquarters to Tampa to work more closely with researchers to improve options and care for high-risk women.
Sue lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, Dan, and her son, Beau. She is a 14-year breast cancer survivor.