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2024 Inspirational Family:

The Tuite Family 


Rick and Lori met in the fall of 1994, instantly fell in love, and moved into their house in February of 1995.  They got married in late spring of 1996 and began making their house a home when they welcomed their first child in May of 1997.  Almost two years later, they welcomed their second son in March of 1999.  Lori states that Cranberry Twp. was and still is such a great place to raise a family.  Their boys became very active in CTAA baseball and SVJFAC football programs, making lifelong friends through sports.  Lori served on the board for CTAA Signs and Sponsors program for many years.


Life was good and everyone was healthy and ‘normal’ for many years.  A year after their son Zac graduates from high school, he began having seizures on a regular basis.  He has suffered for 8 years and the doctors are unable to control them with medication.  In February of 2023, Zac had a Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS) implanted with the hopes of controlling his seizures.  Unfortunately, it has not.  The family still seeks answers and treatments to assist their son in order for him to have a normal life.

In April of 2023, Rick noticed a ‘lump’ under his chin while shaving.  He went to the ER and they did a CAT scan.  Their opinion was, ‘there’s something here, but we don’t see any cause for alarm at this point.  If it gets bigger, go see your doctor’.  Rick’s lump did get bigger, and he went to see his doctor in December.  After another CAT scan, he was told that there was a spot on one of his lymph nodes in his neck.  The PET scan in January also revealed that he had a spot on his left kidney.


In January 2024, Rick’s biopsy on his neck confirmed that the spot was squamous cell carcinoma.  This type of cancer usually attacks the back of the mouth, so in their search to identify where the primary source was, he had his tonsils removed in February.  Those results were negative, so the search continued, and Rick went from the care of the ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) doctor to a head and neck doctor at Montefiore Hospital in Oakland.  They suggested that Rick talk to the director at Hillman Cancer Center in Shadyside to see if the tumor could be shrunk using Immunotherapy, therefore potentially making the surgery less invasive.  He opted to enter into the Immunotherapy clinical trial and received his infusion in early March.


On April 16, 2024, Rick underwent a 10 hour surgery for the removal of his right mandible, floor of his mouth, and the lump under his chin.  They removed a total of 89 lymph nodes in that area.  Rick’s construction of his mandible was from his bone in his left thigh and flesh and bone from the donor site to recreate what needed replaced in his mouth.  Rick had a feeding tube and a tracheotomy, which were later removed.


Rick still needs to undergo 6 weeks of radiation and chemo and may need another feeding tube as treatment to the throat will make it hard for him to swallow.  When he is healed from all of the trauma in mouth, he will need to see an oral surgeon to replace all of his teeth that he has lost due to the cancer.  The biopsy on his left kidney will be scheduled in the near future, and he could be looking at another surgery and another round of radiation and chemo to kill the renal cell cancer.


Rick, who is an OTR truck driver hauling nuclear power plant equipment has not been able to work since December 2023.  And although this has put financial strain on the family, they remain positive and are humbled by the Cranberry community’s support through this difficult time.  Please keep Rick Tuite and his family in your thoughts and prayers and rally around them as Rick battles through his cancer.

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