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Penquis Valley’s Mills celebrates senior game five years after beating Cancer


MILO, Maine (WABI) – The start of the high school soccer season meant senior day at Penquis Valley. For one father and son, who happen to be coach and player, a day to reflect on the journey Zak Mills has taken to become just another senior. Except Zak is the senior that beat Cancer…

“I’m thankful that I was able to beat it,” says Penquis Valley senior Zak Mills, “All the nurses and doctors at Eastern Maine, now northern light as it is, I’m just thankful that they were able to help me through it.”

“He doesn’t like talking about it, but unfortunately, it’s part of his life,” says Zak’s father and coach Jason Mills, “It is something he went through and stuff. So, it’s always going to be with him. He should feel fortunate to overcome that.”

Zak beat Cancer 5 years ago this week. His mom shared a Facebook memory about his final day of chemotherapy.

“Five years he is removed from the Cancer treatment and everything,” Jason says, “Everything he’s gone through, my wife and family, and everyone is extremely proud of him. For the work he’s put in at school and in athletics.”

“A lot has changed in five years. You know when I saw her computer the other day, I didn’t even think of it. It didn’t even come to mind when I saw it and I realized how long it’s been,” says Zak, “I had a check-up this summer, and where I’m five years out, I don’t have to have any more scans.”

Back to being a teenager. Excited to have his senior season. One last fall of playing soccer for his head coach father.

“Sometimes it’s good and sometimes you know there’s some long nights at home,” says Zak, “but you know it’s been good. I really appreciate all he has done for me, and all he’s done for all the guys, throughout the years.”

“A lot of times he’s out there playing but I’m not focusing on him because there are 10 other players out there I’m focusing on after and stuff,” says Jason, “So it’s mixed. I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to coach him, but I haven’t had a chance to really watch him either.”

Senior day.

“It’s a special day. Thank your parents,” says Zak, ” thank your coaches, fans, and everyone who has supported you throughout your time in high school.”

“Leave it out on the field. I am proud of you,” says Jason.

And a chance to be recognized for how great it is to just be a kid on the team…

“It’s been a great four years at Penquis,” says Zak, “I’m glad I got to finish it out.”

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