Pinellas County School Board member Peggy O'Shea, who is running for re-election, says she has breast cancer and expects to begin chemotherapy next week.
She said in an interview Thursday that she is staying positive, but wants people to know because it may affect her ability to attend some campaign events.
"If I have some days when I can't be everywhere, my health will be a priority," O'Shea said, "but I fully intend to carry on my duties as a School Board member and, of course, the campaigning."
She said she has informed superintendent Mike Grego and her School Board colleagues.
"The whole board is behind her and we're offering our prayers and thoughts as she goes through this," said Carol Cook, the board's chairwoman.
O'Shea does not have a history of breast cancer in her family. She found the lump during a self-examination and has seen two doctors. She said she hopes her experience will encourage other women to get checked.
"A lot of people have gone through this in the school district, and it's amazing how many women, unfortunately, it impacts today," she said. "The key is don't be afraid of it, get in there, get it checked, and if you have it, get the treatment."
O'Shea said her chemotherapy treatments will last 20 weeks. Afterward, she'll consult with her doctors about possible surgery.
She is running for a third term against Kent Curtis, a professor of environmental history at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and the founder of a nonprofit. He also is the founder and former director of the Edible Peace Patch, a group that promotes school gardens and mentoring for at-risk students.
The election is Aug. 26.
Contact Lisa Gartner at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @lisagartner.