For 26 years now, I’ve struggled through the month of October. My first wife, Jimmie Lou, was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 1995. We jokingly referred to her as the Breast Cancer Awareness poster girl that year. In subsequent years, the joking became much more difficult as the disease metastasized to a lung, her liver, and eventually her brain. There were no cures on the horizon.

When I remarried following her death, I still dreaded October because it was such a painful reminder of what could have been. Less than 17 years into my second marriage, Cheryl was diagnosed with breast cancer. It had already metastasized to several bones, including her spine. Now, she’s gone, too, and I don’t know that we’re any closer to a cure or a less-damaging treatment regimen.

I’m neither a medical professional nor a researcher. I’m a twice-widowed man who is frustrated that there is still no cure. There are few treatments that don’t have uncomfortable and inconvenient side effects or leave permanent physical scars.

I don’t want to give up hope. I have three daughters whose mothers died from breast cancer. One of those daughters has a daughter of her own. Must they all have this threat hanging over their heads for the rest of their lives? I sincerely hope not. However, our country, which has led the world in a multitude of technological achievements, remains stumped by cancer. What will it take?

Scott Presnall

Red Oak

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