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Our Family's Journey Through Caring Circle Programs

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Angela Shares Her Story

Angela Schlaack and her husband Mike shared an amazing life for over two decades, with winding roads and the ups and downs of life which are the joys of every partnered life. But then came a situation like no other. Mike was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Their journey was quickly filled with detours and uncertainty.

And then they found Caring Circle.

As Mike’s health began to quickly decline the family connected with Caring Circle’s palliative care services so the intense pain due to treatment could be better managed. The Caring Circle palliative care team improved Mike’s quality of life, and although his medical team was widespread, they now had a local, caring community to help meet his needs.

Over the next ten months, Mike’s health continued to worsen, and the family needed additional help with his day-to-day care. Caring Circle provided Mike’s family with emotional support as well during this journey. Their care team helped begin important conversations to ensure that Mike’s end-of-life wishes were met.

While discussing an advance care plan, the family toured the Merlin and Carolyn Hanson Hospice Center. It was there they encountered a truly home-like setting that could offer Mike peace of mind at the end of his life. Following months of treatment and clinical trials, and never achieving remission, Mike made the decision to stop treatment and seek hospice care. The tour confirmed Mike’s desire to be moved to the Hanson Hospice Center.

Their time at the Hanson Hospice Center was brief, but such a comfort. Within a few hours of arriving for his final stay, Mike died, at 45 years young.

Peace yet deep sadness fills me as I hold Mike. I feel the warmth and breath escaping his body. I realize that this moment will be our last on our journey together.

~ Angela Schlaack

A Precious Moment

I carry a special moment with me from the time leading up to Mike’s death. Our daughter was nearing her 11th birthday and due to Mike’s declining health, we knew he would not survive to celebrate with her on that special day. Our care team recognized that Mike was having a few good days and suggested we have an early birthday party. We had a small dinner with family to celebrate our daughter. Two days later Mike was transferred to the Hanson Hospice Center where we would spend our time together during his last hours of life.

I am so grateful for this time. Not only did my daughter get one more birthday with her dad, Mike was able to see our daughter’s happiness during that party one last time. In that moment I learned hospice is so much more than the medical aspect of dying. It’s all about living well. It gave my daughter and I memories that we will carry forever.

Providing Hope for Others

As Angela continues to heal in her own grief she is reminded of how Caring Circle helped their family every step of the way. They ensured her husband’s life ended well and their family’s life continue on.

The hope Angela gained from Caring Circle is something that she wishes to share with others. Now, working at Lory’s Place, she is able to see first-hand how the work of Caring Circle is bringing hope and educating the community about dying and grief.

For Angela, working through her grief is a lifelong process that doesn’t go away, but she is confident that everyone can find their way again. By working at Lory’s Place and being part of Caring Circle family, Angela feels like Mike’s life is not in vain.

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