By SHANNON McCAFFREY
ATLANTA - Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes said today he was treated for prostate cancer earlier this year but is hopeful he has "whipped" the disease.
Barnes told The Associated Press he went through five weeks of radiation treatment beginning in January and had surgery to implant radioactive seeds in March. The Democrat from Marietta said a fresh round of tests is set to determine whether the cancer is gone.
Barnes said he learned he had cancer from a routine physical last year after his failed comeback bid for governor.
"It was a little surprising to me because I have always been disgustingly healthy," the 63-year-old said.
"I've been fine and it's no big deal," he said, adding that although the radiation treatments left him irritable he only missed two days of work.
"I get bored easily," Barnes, a lawyer, explained.
Doctors told Barnes he caught the problem early and he urged other men to make sure they are tested every year after they turn 50.
Barnes was elected governor in 1998 and served one term. His re-election bid in 2001 was scuttled by Sonny Perdue, who became the state's first Republican governor since Reconstruction.
Barnes tried to win his old job back last year, running a campaign pledging to invest money in the state's struggling schools.
He was defeated by Republican Nathan Deal, a former congressman, in a GOP sweep of every statewide office in Georgia.
Despite the bitter campaign, Deal called Barnes to wish him a speedy recovery, the governor's spokesman Brian Robinson said.
Barnes today chuckled that the cancer was "a pox put on me by my Republican friends."