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Published on March 03, 2020

Love + Medicine Cupcake story

Cupcakes make patient's birthday extra special 

On the eve of his discharge from Gundersen's La Crosse Hospital, patient Stanley Hongerholt told his doctor that he'd leave the facility on his birthday.

"Do you like cake?" Internal Medicine chief resident Mark Rostad, MD, asked.

But before that question, Dr. Rostad delivered news that changed Stanley's world. He told Stanley to discuss his options with his wife and that he'd return the next day.

Stanley HongerholtStanley Hongerholt

"I knew that, regardless of his decision, Stanley would have a completely life altering birthday," Dr. Rostad says. "I also believe that no matter how overwhelmingly bleak a situation seems, it can always be made better with dessert."

The next day, on Stanley's 76th birthday, Dr. Rostad delivered a dozen gourmet vanilla cupcakes with white frosting and sprinkles.

"My father said they were the best he ever had," says Amy Bergey, Stanley's daughter.

Stanley shared the decision that would alter the course of his life with Dr. Rostad before giving him a teary-eyed smile over the birthday gesture.

"I will never forget that smile," Dr. Rostad said.

Stanley's family won't forget the extra measure of care on what would turn out to be his last birthday. At Gundersen, you'll find providers like Dr. Rostad, who believe a patient should expect more than just treatment.

"The patient should expect to be heard, understood and respected," he says. "They should expect to receive sincere, empathetic and selfless care."

Every day, throughout the many locations that make up Gundersen Health System, staff deliver world-class care plus a little something extra – we call it Love + Medicine. If this story inspires you to share a story of your own go to

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