Jackson Township football team shows support for coach’s wife who is a breast cancer survivor

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STARK COUNTY, Ohio —  A local football coach’s wife said her love for football helped her tackle breast cancer, and some grueling surgeries and radiation treatments.

Even with a compromised immune system Mandy Rohr was at the game Friday night between the Jackson Township Polar Bears and North Canton Hoover Vikings.

“I try to be at every game, absolutely,” said Mandy, whose husband Jay Rohr is the defensive coordinator for the Bears.

But the 37-year-old mother of four was nearly sidelined and facing an uncertain future just three months ago, as the season was kicking off.

“I was sobbing behind the concession stands, petrified coming home from my first doctor appointment,” said Mandy. “It completely turned my world upside down.”

The Rohrs have seven-year-old twin boys, a three-year-old daughter and had recently given birth to a baby boy when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She said she was experiencing discomfort and things just didn’t look right.

“Misdiagnosed at first, but we’re all human you know, you just have to be an advocate for yourself, so I took myself to another doctor and she found the tumor and I had surgery right away,” said Mandy.

Her husband Jay, 36, was a legendary linebacker for the Bears, played for the University of Akron, and was starting his fifth year coaching at Jackson, but immediately offered to quit. Mandy said no way!

“You know we sat down and discussed those things,” said Jay,  “And she said you know this is us, this is what we do as a family, you know we’re a football family.” 

And as it turns out they’re part of a very big family.

They say the entire community and especially the team rallied behind them every step of the way.

They even put stickers on the players’ helmets with her initials MR and a pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness.

“To be honest everyone on the team is basically her son, she’s really team mom here,” said #55 Quentin Hendrickson, who is a senior Polar Bear and also Mandy’s nephew. “She makes us want to fight even more for her.”

Mandy never missed a game all season while undergoing two surgeries, multiple therapies and four weeks of intensive daily radiation treatments. 

The entire time she also continued to host the team at their house every Thursday night to watch films.

Now several months later, Mandy’s cancer is in remission and believes Jackson Bears football absolutely was just as important as her medical treatments.

“If not I would’ve just been home on cold days, feeling down on myself so this team definitely got me through that,” said Mandy. “When it comes to the football family I just always get this burst of energy I love them, I love  their parents, the kids- you’d do anything for your family. The football team is our family and I’d do anything for them.”

The Bears went on to beat the Vikings 29-23 Friday night and are on their way to the playoffs.

They said they’ll keep fighting and hopefully win the the State Championship for Mandy.  

“That would be amazing to be honest, really amazing,” said Quentin.

Mandy still has to undergo scans every six months for the next five years, but feels blessed to be healthy again and in remission.

She encourages everyone to trust their instincts and if something doesn’t feel right keep seeking additional medical opinions.

“Make sure you pay attention to your body and if you think something is wrong get it checked out,” said Mandy. “Just live your best life every single day, be kind to yourself, and take care of yourself.”

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