Former San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor has cancer surgery

Former San Diego mayor Maureen O'Connor reveals cancer surgery in hopes of helping other women

Former San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor is recuperating from surgery to remove a cancerous lesion in her breast.

O'Connor, 68, underwent a single mastectomy Wednesday at the Breast Health Center at the Sharp Memorial Outpatient Pavilion, part of the Sharp Healthcare system in San Diego.

She authorized the hospital to announce her surgery in hopes the news will encourage other women "to consult their physicians and learn more about breast cancer and early detection," according to a statement from Sharp Healthcare.

Dr. Christina Casteel, who led the surgical team that performed the mastectomy, said that women over age 40 should have a mammogram every year, along with an examination by their physician.

O'Connor, a Democrat, was mayor from 1986 to 1992. She had served on the City Council and Port Commission and remains one of the most popular political figures in San Diego history.

In 2013, she admitted in federal court that she had a gambling addiction and had improperly used $2 million from a charity started by her late husband, Robert O. Peterson, founder of the Jack 'n the Box restaurant chain.

Her lawyer said her behavior may have been influenced by a brain tumor for which she had surgery in 2011. In court, she appeared frail; federal prosecutors said her declining health would have made it unlikely she could withstand a trial.

As part of a plea bargain, O'Connor promised to pay $2 million in restitution, as well as back taxes. Those payments are expected to be made from the pending settlement of a civil suit filed against a German bank that bought a resort in Mendocino County from O'Connor.

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