Agrace helped Mitch reach his goal—seeing his son off to kindergarten.
Mitch Viren grew up in Rockford and married Holly, a neighbor he’d met in sixth grade. In 2012 they had a son, named Harrison. But when Harrison was just a baby, Mitch was diagnosed as having acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
Over the next couple of years, Mitch tried multiple curative treatments. But in late 2016, his doctors at University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison suggested it was time for hospice, and they referred him to Agrace.
“We could have said, ‘We don’t need hospice. We’ll just wing it,’” Holly says, “But I don’t think we’d have been able to live as much as we wanted to.”
Agrace’s Rockford-based hospice team began to visit Mitch at home in late 2016. “They were very caring,” Holly remembers. “I could have somebody on the phone immediately. That gave me a lot of confidence as his caregiver—to know that it wasn’t just me, but that I had a whole team behind me, rooting for us and giving us instructions when we needed them.”
“Erika, our fantastic nurse, really took time to explain. I relied heavily on her when things were troubling me,” Holly adds. “And our social worker let us share our feelings and gave us feedback about how to cope.”
As time grew short, Mitch’s biggest goal was to see Harrison go to his first day of school in August. Holly explains, “That morning, we had help from Cain (another Agrace nurse), to get Mitch out of bed and to the car so we could go to the bus stop and see Harrison off to school. We wouldn’t have been able to do that without Agrace.”
It happened just in time: Mitch died three days later.
Looking back, Holly says, “I’m most thankful for their support for me as a caregiver, to have the education to relate to what my husband was going through. The support Agrace offers—to more than the patient—was immeasurable. We were very lucky to have Agrace as our hospice!”