As LaRue Countians prepare for the annual Relay for Life event scheduled for May 15 at Hodgenville Elementary School, the local Relay for Life County Committee is focusing on local survivor stories. This is the second of eight stories.
Whether you know him as the guy who pumps your gas at the local service station or as the man who is quick with a joke or innocent prank, Jimmy Rogers is living proof that we can all fight back when it comes to cancer.
Rogers was given less than a year to live in September 2004 when he was diagnosed with stage four advanced prostate cancer.
It’s not that Rogers hadn’t been taking care of himself. A non-smoker and non-drinker, he had faithfully undergone regular rectal exams and blood tests for his prostate every year since his early 50s and everything had always shown up normal. There had been an increase in urination during the night, but there had been no pain or burning that is often associated with prostate cancer.
But when his doctor requested that he bring his family with him for the test results, Rogers knew the news could not be good.
“The doctor said my cancer had grown out of the front of my prostate and had spread into the bladder walls and into at least two lymph nodes. He gave me about a year to live and that’s not nearly enough time for me to spoil all my grandchildren.”
Because the cancer had spread to the nodes, surgery was not an option in Rogers’ case. The future looked bleak. His family, especially his wife Janis, began to explore options through the Internet. They sought three different medical opinions and finally agreed on the treatment set by Dr. Oliver Sartor at LSU Medical and Research Center in New Orleans.
Sartor thought that Rogers could have had the disease for at least three years, but it went undetected because the rectal digital exam covered only the back half of the prostate and not the front. The growth pushing in on the bladder walls caused the increase in urination. But Sartor gave the Rogers family a glimpse of hope with a three-pronged attack against the disease.
First, Rogers began a regimen of Casodex and Lupron in the form of a pill and injection therapy. This treatment deprived the cancer of the hormones on which it thrived. Then Rogers traveled to Louisville for five weeks for 42 radiation treatments followed by three weeks of Tomo treatment to focus on the cancerous tissues in the lymph nodes, bladder and prostate. An additional 18 weeks of Taxotere and Prednisone followed to track down any surviving malignant cells in his body.
At home, Rogers was supported by his wife, his sons, Chris and Todd, daughters, Cari and Tiffany, and their spouses and children. Brother-in-law Harold Warren and Cari served as medical term interpreters and assisted Rogers in understanding his options.
“All my family, my co-workers, and my First Baptist Church family served as my support. I can’t say enough about how important it is to have a support system is place,” he said.
Four years and six months later, Rogers knows God isn’t finished with him. Rogers and his family are still fighting back.
They are all active team members of the First Baptist Church Living Strong Relay for Life Team.”
“Getting a second, even third opinion is always a good idea. I know it was in my case,” he said. “Having that support system in place is also important. Don’t try to go it alone. If I can assist anyone in their battle, they can contact me. I am available to encourage and support.”