The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


Tori Romstadt scored her first goal of the season on Monday in the first half of Northwood girls soccer team’s 2-2 tie with rival Cardinal Stritch.

“She was in the right place at the right time,” Rangers coach Monte Bandeen said. “We look for her to score. She’s a hard worker up top. She creates a lot of goals with her hustle.”

The fact that Romstadt has played at all this season is nothing short of amazing.

Turn the calendar back to late March. Tori noticed something wasn’t right with her neck, so she asked her mother, Amy, to take a look.


“She came downstairs one day and said she had a lump on her throat,” Amy said. “She didn’t have any pain, and you couldn’t see it unless she tilted her head back. If you looked right at her, you couldn’t tell there was a lump. It looked like half an egg stick out of her throat. I said, ‘Oh, my gosh!’

“My initial reaction was it was strep. She’s trim, athletic, not a chubby kid. She plays soccer and runs track and she’s in pristine physical health. She had no symptoms at all. No hair loss, no weight loss ...”

The Romstadts, including Tori’s father, Tim, took a wait-and-see approach to see if the lump would go away. It didn’t. Tori, 15, the youngest of five children, got tested for strep throat and it came up negative, so Tori went to get an ultrasound.

“They called us back and said they wanted us to see our family physician,” Amy said. “Their initial thought was that it was a vascular issue. The surgeon wanted a CT and said they wanted to send us up to the University of Michigan.”

In June, Tori went to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor for tests. Doctors found that Tori was not having any vascular issues in her neck, but they did not rule out thyroid cancer. The thyroid is a ductless gland at the bottom of the neck that secretes hormones to regulate growth.

Thyroid cancer prognosis

The lump turned out to be papillary carcinoma, the most common type of thyroid cancer, which accounts for approximately 80 percent of cases. It most often affects people ages 30-50.

Amy informed Tori of the doctor’s cancer diagnosis on Friday, July 13.

“I was OK at first,” Tori said, “and then it kind of processed through my mind it was cancer. (The news) kind of shook me up a little bit. You put a label on anything, especially the word ‘cancer,’ and it would shake anybody up. They (doctors) explained the process of how to get the cancer out. All cancer is bad, but they said if you were to have any type of cancer, this would be the cancer to have because of the process of getting it out of your body.”

Dr. Andrew Rosko, an ear, nose and throat specialist, performed the surgery to remove Tori’s thyroid on Aug. 3 at Mott Children’s Hospital.

“He took her entire thyroid out and she will have to be on Levothyroxin (a thyroid medication) the rest of her life,” Amy said. “Several lymph nodes were taken out on the entire right side of her neck. It’s healing up really nice. She’s got a pride about it, like it’s kind of cool.”

Tori was back playing soccer within a couple weeks after her surgery. She is not required to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments, according to Amy.

Coach learns of cancer diagnosis

Bandeen, the Rangers’ coach, knows something about cancer. He works in patient registration at Mercy Health-St. Vincent Medical Center and said he has, “seen a lot of cancer patients.”

“Tori came to me in July and said she had a lump in her neck and they were trying to figure out what it was,” Bandeen said. “She came to me two weeks later and said, ‘Coach, I have thyroid cancer.’ My first thought was, ‘holy crap!’ You hear the word ‘cancer’ and you automatically think the worst. Obviously, you have concern for her and you hope for a complete recovery. Then the coach comes out in you, wondering when you’re going to have her back.”

Monday’s tie with Stritch left Northwood’s record at 1-2, with three ties, and Tori played in all six games.

“She’s not the biggest player in the world, but she plays bigger than what she is,” Bandeen said. “She works hard and is one of the first kids at practice and one of the last ones to leave. She’s a good player, with good skill. She’s still learning the forward position.”

Tori missed her first game of the season on Thursday, against Evergreen. Two days earlier, she had to take an oral dose of radioactive iodine, which should kill all the remaining thyroid cells in her body. Doctors instructed her to take a brief break from soccer.

“She doesn’t look different at all,” Bandeen said. “Some days she’s a little more tired than others. Besides the scar on her neck, you wouldn’t know anything was ever wrong with her.”

Amy said her daughter has been “positive” during the entire ordeal.

“She understood the doctor, who had a great bedside manner and spoke with us so we understood each step,” Amy said. “That took a lot of the mystery away from Tori, and she had a positive attitude through all of it.”

Rejoining her teammates

Tori spent all five days in the hospital, anxiously waiting for the opportunity to rejoin her Northwood teammates.

“Soccer is my favorite sport,” she said. “I was really anxious to get back and be there as much as I possibly could. I got released from the hospital on a Wednesday. I came home, took a shower and went straight to soccer pictures. That was the first time I had seen my entire team; my best friend, Emily (Bowen), came to the hospital to visit me.

“I got out of the car, and once they noticed me they had smiles on their faces and gave me hugs. It made me feel like I was a part of the team, like I didn’t miss anything. It felt great.”

Tori said she still has short stretches during games when she needs a breather. Most of the time, however, she doesn’t think about her energy level and the fact she recently had surgery.

“It feels good to know that everything is going as it should,” Tori said. “I’m on the road to getting back to my normal life again. The biggest thing is (having) patience. If you look at everything so negatively, it’s not going to help at all. I stayed as positive as I could around my friends and family, so they wouldn’t get down or be scared.”

Tori started a low-iodine diet on Labor Day, and she remained on that diet through Wednesday. Her immediate food request, according to her mom, was Chick-fil-A and donuts from the Fleitz Pumpkin Farm in Oregon.

Tori said her message to anyone her age who is diagnosed with cancer is “to just keep your head up.”

“You have to look on the positive side of everything,” she said. “I feel very fortunate that I was able to go through surgery and have everything go as planned. I had the best outcome and I was able to come back in two weeks and play soccer and have no issues.”




What did you think about President Trump's State of the Union address?
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