Breast cancer advocate dies after battle with illness

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

Thumbnail for 8154By Lauren DiTullio lditullio


An amazing laugh. Dynamic blue eyes. A smile that lit up the room. These are the things Fiona Maguire will remember about her husband Peter Devereaux, a well-liked Marine and male breast cancer advocate who died Thursday after a six year battle with the illness. He was 52.

“He really had a great, light personality. He liked everyone. He was probably the least judgmental person you’d ever meet in your life,” Maguire said. “He never looked at people for money they made, or how they looked,or anything like that.  He was really just a kind man.”

Devereaux became well known as an advocate for breast cancer patients through talks he gave at fundraisers in Greater Boston and beyond. Devereaux was part of the largest group of male breast cancer patients ever recorded: former Marines who were stationed at Camp Lejeune. At the North Carolina base, Marines and their families were exposed to toxic water from at least 1957 to 1987. Devereaux served four years with the Marines beginning when he was 18 and was stationed at Camp Lejeune for 16 months.

But when he first discovered a lump on his chest in 2008, Devereaux and his family didn’t know that men could get breast cancer. After his diagnosis, Maguire said, doctors often warned Devereaux he would be subjected to methods of treatment that had only been widely studied on women.

“I think he felt so alone when he was initially diagnosed. There was no one to talk to, no one to ask about their experience,” Maguire said.

Combined with his giving personality, Devereaux’s isolation contributed to his decision to get involved in raising funds and awareness for cancer patients.

“It was important to him to be there for other men that had been diagnosed. He never wanted anyone to feel alone like he did,” Maguire said.

Maguire met Devereaux, a Peabody native, in 1991. The two married in 1996. Throughout his life, Devereaux was an athlete. He played basketball, went on long distance runs, and was a Golden Gloves boxing champion. Even more than athletics, Maguire said, Devereaux loved spending time with his loved ones. His 16-year-old daughter, Jackie, is a student at North Andover High School. He is also survived by three sisters and three brothers.