President Barry Mills has been told he is healthy and cancer-free. After a March 15 prostate cancer diagnosis, Mills underwent surgery this summer to remove the cancer. Beyond the necessary recovery period he took after the procedure, Mills does not expect any further health-related setbacks in his schedule.

After a thunderous applause at Convocation following his announcement of good health, Mills said, "I want to assure you that I have the strength, energy, enthusiasm, and resolve to work with all of you to lead our College as we sustain our path for excellence into the future."

In fact, Mills traveled all the way to Hong Kong for Bowdoin business earlier this week.

"One of the amazing things about prostate cancer is that many options are available to deal with it, and new ones are invented everyday," Mills said. "I talked to a lot of physicians, did a lot of investigation, I made my choice and for me it seems to have been the right choice."

When walking around campus, Mills said he gets the feeling that people are still watching him. "Cancer is a very scary thing and people get appropriately concerned about it," said Mills.

After the June 13 surgery, Mills lost weight and was not allowed to exercise for six weeks. Since then, he has started exercising and playing tennis. He is now gaining his weight back, and will be monitored by blood tests for the next few years.

"I think it's fair to say my energy level is perceived on campus as above-average," Mills said. "I may not be at my peak, but I'm getting there."

His wife, Karen Gordon Mills, agreed.

"He is quite well, and almost back to full strength," she said.

According to College Physician and Director of Health Services Dr. Jeff Benson, the surgery Mills underwent?a radical prostatectomy?takes three to four hours and patients usually stay in the hospital for three to four days afterward.

"As a treatment for cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate gland, radical prostatectomy is curative well over 90 percent of the time, depending on tumor cell type," said Benson.

Mills and his family were far from alone in the cancer-fight, however. Asked about the student body's support, Mills said, "The students were fantastic."

His wife shared his appreciation. "We are grateful for the warmth and support of everyone at the College through this process. It has made a huge difference," said Karen Mills.

Bowdoin Student Government President DeRay McKesson '07 took the lead in cheering up Mills after his surgery.

"I told him that he would receive a gift every day until he came back to work. There were about 20 students who helped out during the summer to make gifts for him."

From then on, for every day of the summer, Mills received cards, poems, or even tickets to the movies. "Toward the end of the summer, I had to say, 'Look, I'm fine!'" Mills said.

One Saturday evening, McKesson and 11 students showed up at Mills's house to sing a cappella "Build Me Up Buttercup," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," and "Lean on Me."

"That was one of the most fun," said McKesson.

In his convocation speech, Mills gave particular mention to the personal concert, and said, "There I sat in my rocking chair surrounded by Bowdoin students singing away. Our guests immediately understood what is so special about this College and community."

James Baumberger contributed to this report.