FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Scott Reece wears a piece of his late wife, Keyla with him every day.
Eight months after she lost her battle with breast cancer, it hasn't gotten any easier for the family. The couple has three sons; their youngest is Ryan, who is 11 years old.
"I feel like if I don't have it on, there's something missing," said Reece. "As a child (at) that age I know Ryan is wondering why, but Nunny talked to him a lot about this and he's taking it real well."
The 42-year-old was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer at 38 years old, which is just two years before doctors recommend annual mammograms for women. Her sister Tauneka Dolloson remembers when she felt a lump in her breast in 2015. Doctors told her it was benign, but they were wrong.
"I felt like more could have been done. I should have told Keyla no, let's go get a second opinion or let's go get it done again," said Dolloson.
Breast cancer continues to disproportionately affect Black women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said while more White women are diagnosed, the mortality rate is about 40% higher in black women. Healthcare officials said access and lack and education are to blame.
"If you wait to screen until you have symptoms, you're diagnosed in the later stages and if you are diagnosed in the later stages, you have poor outcomes," said Duke Cancer Institute program manager Dr. Angelo Moore.
According to Moore, access is more than having health insurance. It could be lack of transportation, money or other barriers. If you don't, there are free programs available. He issued a plea to close the healthcare education gap.
"We need you in our families. Black women are the backbone of Black families. We need you to be healthy," said Moore.
Reece is also asking more women to be proactive in their health as he enters Breast Cancer Awareness month without his favorite advocate.
"She is definitely missed between me and my boys in our household. You don't want to go through what I went through," he said.
'Definitely missed': Fayetteville family enters Breast Cancer Awareness Month after loss of mother
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