Palm Coast People: Jim Keegan raises breast cancer awareness in men

Breast cancer isn’t just found in women. This year, approximately 530 men will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
Like many others, Palm Coast resident Jim Keegan thought only women developed the disease — until he was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. Since then, he has advocated to raise awareness and warn others about the dangers of the disease.
“Breast cancer can be just as painful and devastating for men as it can be for women,” said Keegan.
The number of men developing breast cancer is increasing. Keegan said one out of every 883 men is diagnosed with breast cancer. Ten years ago, the statistic was one out of every 1,000 men. Comparatively, one out of every 100 women is diagnosed with breast cancer.
Keegan’s breast cancer was discovered when his wife noticed a pea-sized lump on his left breast. After a visit with his family physician, he was sent for a mammogram. The day of his mammogram, the radiologist recommended a same-day biopsy. A few days later, he received a call saying it was cancer.
“The race was on,” said Keegan. “We had to get this taken care of as quickly as possible and away we went.”
Keegan had a one-sided mastectomy, and several of his lymph nodes were removed.
After surgery, he endured a regimen of chemotherapy for one year and was prescribed an oral medication for the following ten years.
“I was really quite fortunate,” said Keegan. “I didn’t have terrible side effects. I lost what little hair I had and couldn’t sleep the night of chemotherapy.”
Keegan was also fortunate that his cancer was found early. Many other men are not so lucky. Often, breast cancer isn’t diagnosed in men until later when it is more advanced.
“It is more common to be fatal in men than women,” said Keegan. “It is often found at a later stage.”
Keegan and his wife, Pat, want everyone, especially men, to know that men can develop breast cancer.
“My wife and I have been very active in trying to raise awareness about breast cancer in men,” said Keegan.
Keegan regularly speaks at health fairs and American Cancer Society functions. He participates in fundraising events, marathons and 5K runs. He has volunteered with the Florida Breast Cancer Association, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Male Breast Cancer Global Alliance.
Keegan was chosen as a Ford Warrior in Pink in 2020 for his work in spreading awareness about male breast cancer. He was also named a Whataburger Hometown Hero, an award for which he was nominated by the Donna Foundation in Jacksonville, Fla. Keegan volunteers every year for the Donna Foundation Health Expo.
In 2022, Keegan carried the flag for The Cure Bowl in Orlando to represent all breast cancer survivors.
On Tuesday evenings, Keegan is often found at the Daytona Tortugas game for Breast Cancer Awareness nights. Keegan hands out informational materials and answers questions about the disease.
According to Keegan, breast cancer symptoms are the same for both men and women.
Symptoms may include lumps, breast discharge and tenderness.
“This happens and it’s not something to be embarrassed about. It’s not something to ignore. You need to go through the breast self-examinations or ask a spouse or significant other or physician,” said Keegan. “That’s the way to catch it. The earlier you catch it, the better your chances are for survival.”