Tsutae (Sue) Kuwabara
Tsutae Kuwabara was all about family. In her native Hawaii the word for family is “Ohana”. It means more than just immediate family, more than grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It includes all those who have touched or had meaning in one’s life. Sue made sure it was a part of every aspect of her being. Despite living almost 5000 miles from her childhood home she was dedicated to keeping close relationships with her siblings and their families. Her children were taught to refer to their parent’s friends as “aunty” and “uncle”, because doing so automatically brought them closer. To her sons and their friends Tsutae was a sounding board, advice giver, or shoulder on which to cry. If she was home the side door was never locked, the fridge was always full, and the kitchen never closed. Sue touched so many lives, and to her, each and every one was ohana.
Sue’s journey began with an ulceration on her tongue and a visit to an oral surgeon. Soon after she was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. After an initial surgery and radiation she had a very aggressive recurrence. This was followed by two more surgeries and chemotherapy, all of which proved unsuccessful. In a final effort she was included in an immunotherapy study. After no improvement, she chose to spend her final days at home with her ohana. On October 7, 2015 her suffering came to an end. Through it all Tsutae fought courageously and without complaint.