Su W Faces of Breast Cancer: Su Wang

Do not delay getting your routine mammograms-and any recommended follow-up!

Even as a physician herself, it was a nudge from her mom that got Su Wang, MD, to get her yearly mammogram. A small abnormality was found on the mammogram, requiring additional imaging. She remembers thinking “This is probably nothing, I’ll repeat it in a few months.” When Su mentioned this to a physician colleague, she responded, “Su, you know you would never tell that to a patient.”

Su scheduled the additional mammogram. Over Thanksgiving weekend in 2019, at age 44, Su received a phone call confirming that she had early-stage breast cancer.

When Su first got her diagnosis, her initial approach was very clinical. She went into “doctor mode” of researching the literature, looking at studies and talking to colleagues who were experts in the field. Given her family history and genetics, Su chose to have a bilateral mastectomy at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. As the day drew near, it hit her that her body was about to be altered permanently. She realized she needed to confront this loss and process it on a personal, not clinical, level.

Being on the other side of medicine, as a patient, was very eye opening for Su. After surgery, the recovery was more difficult than anticipated. She found a wealth of support from breast cancer survivors through online communities and conversations with people she knew. “So much of living with a medical condition is outside of what we clinicians see. It is an important component for us clinicians to remember as we are helping people get back on their feet,” says Su.

Su’s message to the community: do not delay getting your routine mammograms-and any recommended follow-up!