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Lancaster's no-nonsense mayor says he has prostate cancer

March 7, 2012 | 11:24 am

R. Rex Parris
R. Rex Parris, Lancaster’s effervescent and no-nonsense mayor, announced Wednesday he has an aggressive form of prostate cancer.

But he insisted the diagnosis has neither dampened his spirits nor his determination to continue his duties as the High Desert city’s boss.

“I do believe it’s very treatable,” Parris said in a telephone interview. “I feel good. All the negative stuff I tend to obsess about … are all falling away. I’ve really developed a whole new perspective. I’m not letting anything take 10 seconds.”

Parris said doctors suspected he might have cancer last week following a routine checkup in which his levels of prostate-specific antigens were found to be high. Additional tests confirmed he has “an early stage, but aggressive form of prostate cancer,” Parris said.

Fortunately, it was caught in time and had not spread beyond the prostate, he said.

A fitness enthusiast who spoke Wednesday shortly after wrapping up a Pilates session, Parris said he would begin a months-long intensive treatment program next week, including five weeks of radiation.

“At the end of the day, it’s really a pain in the butt -- literally,” Parris said in jest. 

The mayor, who was first elected to office in April 2008 and reelected in 2010, said he expected to miss work at City Hall and at the personal injury law firm he runs only on the days of his treatment. His term as mayor expires next month.

“It couldn’t have come at a worse time. I’m in the middle of some of the biggest trials of my life ... and the city is really taking off,” Parris said. “But then, when is a good time?”

Parris, whose brother died from bladder cancer last year, expressed confidence that he would get well.

“My doctors have told me that I can expect a full recovery,” he said.


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-- Ann M. Simmons

Photo: Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris speaks in August at the University of Antelope Valley. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times.