Dayton judge to step down during cancer fight |

Dayton judge to step down during cancer fight

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer

Dayton’s Justice of the Peace Bill Rogers is temporarily leaving the bench to undergo nine weeks of radiation therapy to fight prostate cancer.

He was diagnosed in January.

Rogers, 59, will step down next week. Senior Judge Edward R. Johnson will assume the responsibilities of the court during his absence.

Rogers is slated to begin treatment at Loma Linda Medical Center in Southern California on Aug. 13. He will receive radiation treatment five days per week.

“I have prostate cancer and it is one of the aggressive forms of prostate cancer that I have,” Rogers said Thursday.

Rogers, who was a Marine in Vietnam, said Agent Orange is likely the cause of his cancer. “If you were in the military in Vietnam during the era, there is a type of cancer presumptively caused from dioxin – which is the active ingredient in Agent Orange.”

The Air Force’s $140 million “Ranch Hand” study, which began in 1982 and was named for the Agent Orange spraying operation in Vietnam, concluded September 2006. The study found an elevated risk of diabetes to veterans, but no decisive link to cancer.

The Veteran’s Administration also estimates that more than 200,000 cases of prostate cancer will be detected each year, including 10,000 veterans. Forty thousand men die each year from prostate cancer, the second-leading cause of death to men.

Rogers said he considers himself lucky that the cancer was detected in the first place. Showing no symptoms, he said he’s “checked religiously” for prostate cancer and that paid off.

“I’m too young to have the advanced prostate cancer that I have,” he said. “The VA recognizes that. Because I got checked, I’m able to do something about it.”

Rogers’ PSA (a protein found only in prostate tissue that can be detected by a blood test) results came back extremely high in January, he said. He was given antibiotics to make sure there wasn’t an infection in his prostate.

By February, the levels had increased again, and Rogers braced for his battle with cancer.

“There is absolutely no way to find out how you have it, unless you test for it,” Rogers said. “Had I not caught it, it would’ve been almost certainly terminal. I have a 50 percent chance of five-year survival.

“We’re going to play the next card and see how it goes.”

Rogers has been married 36 years to his wife, Cheri, who will accompany him to Southern California.

A father of three, his twin daughters graduated from UNR in the spring. His son, the eldest, graduated two years ago.

This is Rogers’ seventh year on the bench as Dayton’s Justice of the Peace. He originally passed the Illinois bar in 1976 and moved to Nevada and passed the bar here in 1980. He served as Lyon County’s DA from 1982-1990 and ran a private practice in Carson and Dayton from 1990-2000 before taking the bench.

He’s been a Dayton resident since 1986.

“I’ve had a tremendous outpouring of support, it’s been amazing – heartwarming in fact,” he said. “As soon as the treatment’s done, I’ll be right back to work.”