Fran Striker was the author of the Lone Ranger. You should be a little older than me to really remember the Lone Ranger or his indian friend, Tonto. I do remember it, though, and I remember that Tonto used to call the Lone Ranger “Kemo Sabe.” A fair amount of speculation has circulated over the years about the meaning of Kemo Sabe, but Striker’s son, Fran Jr., has more or less put an end to the speculation. Kemo Sabe means “faithful friend.”
Chemo Sabe is a term used by a number of cancer people. There are a couple of books by that name. One thing I can tell you, chemotherapy is a friend to cancer people, but it’s not really the kind of friend you want to have. There are some situations in life, I guess, where you’ll take whatever friend you can get.
But chemo is not a friend of Sue. Not anymore. Nor even a companion. Dr. Hackett stopped in on Wednesday morning and told Sue that Dr. Wolf wanted to start yet another chemo drug on Sue, Cytoxan. So Sue would have been getting Dexamethasone, Revlimid and Cytoxan. But neither doctor was holding out much prospect of recovery of muscle control in Sue’s legs, left arm or throat. The malignant cancer in her spinal fluid had already done a lot of neurological damage. Both doctors agreed that the malignant multiple myeloma cells that have lodged in the wall of Sue’s spinal column and traveled up and down her spine and possibly into the brain through the spinal fluid, wreaking havoc up and down her spine, makes Sue’s an extremely rare and difficult to treat case of myeloma. And but for the high levels of neurontin and hydromorphone, the pain she experiences is unbearable.
So she said no to further chemotherapy. It was an informed decision made with doctors, family and friends. That decision was made two days ago. Sue was discharged today and is now home. Her care is now under the supervision of Saint Agnes Hospice. All feeding, fluids and drugs are administered through her PEG tube. It’s not difficult, just time-consuming. The primary concerns are for comfort. The orders are DNR — do not resuscitate — and don’t call 911.
Sue is happy to be home. We will hire one or more people to help with Sue’s daily care needs. There are nurses and nurse assistants and chaplains who will call on Sue at home, periodically. You are also welcome to stop and visit, Kemo Sabe.