Hannah’s Story – a teen in hospice

Balancing emotions and finding expressive outlets can be especially difficult during cancer treatment. Seventeen-year-old Hannah Viens is acutely aware of this challenge. “I struggle with emotions, sometimes they can go from one to the next really quickly,” she shares. “My faith helps me deal with those struggles.”

In 2014, a CT scan revealed a tumor on the back of Hannah’s head. Her family was stunned. “It was like a punch in the gut,” her dad Jim explains. “It knocks the wind out of you. You really don’t know what to think at that point, that your child might not make it.”
After years of treatment, Hannah made the decision to leave the hospital and receive hospice care at home through Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care’s Carousel program. Carousel is the Kansas City area’s leading pediatric hospice, offering a dedicated multidisciplinary team trained and focused on children’s unique end-of-life needs.

Carousel provides expert care and ensures the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of young people and their families are met. Social workers and volunteers provide expressive outlets through art, music, and play therapy. The goal is to make the most of the time a child has and support their family along the way.

The option for Kansas City Hospice to bring Carousel services to Hannah’s family home was invaluable. “It’s kept things here at home and takes away a lot of the stress of hospital and clinic visits,” Jim shares. “We are really comfortable in our own house,” Hannah’s mom Kim adds, “they can go to Hannah’s room or the living room to hang out and it tends to be relaxed.”

Hannah enjoys spending time at home with her Carousel expressive therapies volunteer creating art, knitting, and baking cookies, as well as visiting with her nurse Cori Jones. “When they come over and we talk, it gives me a different perspective on what I am doing,” Hannah says. “Especially art therapy. It really helps to get my mind off things.”

“Carousel helps people achieve their goals at the end of life,” Cori explains. In addition to addressing physical symptoms, Hannah’s team talks with her about social and emotional needs and helps her complete some of her “bucket list” items.

For the Viens family this has included coordinating hospice care in Arizona to make it possible for Hannah to visit family and see the Grand Canyon. “My family is really important to me,” Hannah explains.

Hannah’s advice for others in her situation is to, “Just live each day and try not to think about things that could happen or are happening. Enjoy each day.”


Hannah was released from Hospice in May 2019. She had surgery and was then tumor free. Then in January 2020, a new growth was found and Hannah went back into hospice in June 2020. Due to COVID-19, extra visitors and art therapy were on hold. We are saddened to report that Hannah died in November 2020, surrounded by her family. Everyone at Kansas City Hospice extends their most sincere condolences to the family.

The Carousel Pediatric Team at Kansas City Hospice meets some pretty spectacular young people, like Hannah, a teen needing hospice care. Watch her story.

Carousel cares for 70 to 100 kiddos each year, from babies through young adults. This team consists of pediatric physicians, nurses, CNAs, social workers, chaplains, art and music therapists. They tend to the needs of the whole family, making sure that parents and siblings have the emotional and spiritual support they need.

Mustache Month for Carousel is a social media FUN-raiser that raises funds needed to make sure each child in Kansas City receives expert care, regardless of the family’s financial situation. Join us!


About Us

The mission of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is to bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance, and hope to people who are affected by life-limiting illness or by grief. Our vision is that each person in our community is valued from life through death and each family is supported in their grief.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.