When Stan Stanek’s doctor entered his room at Fairview Southdale Hospital, he had two pieces of good news.

“First, you’re in complete remission,” he said. With a smile, he added, “And second, there are a few people here to see you.”

As he opened the door, a procession of more than 30 nurses and hospital staff ushered into the room, carrying a cake, cards, gifts and bittersweet goodbyes.

A shocking diagnosis

Stan had come to the hospital exactly 55 days earlier after experiencing cold-like symptoms and vision problems. To his dismay, he was told that he had a form of bone marrow cancer, and he would need to stay in the hospital for eight weeks of chemotherapy.

Instead of giving in to depression or hopelessness, Stan turned to another emotion: gratitude. He was grateful for the timing (he had recently retired), grateful that he was the one diagnosed and not his wife, Sue, and grateful for the exceptional care he was receiving at Fairview Southdale.

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Sue and Stan formed incredibly close relationships with the nurses who cared for him at Fairview Southdale Hospital.

“I found all of the nurses to be so intelligent,” says Stan. “And more importantly, they care. They come in and genuinely want to know how I’m doing and feeling.”

Throughout his hospital stay, Stan and his wife Sue continuously showed their appreciation for the nurses through food, kindness and constant “thank yous.” They even kept reminders of their gratitude on the calendar in Stan’s room, filling each calendar space with one thing they were grateful for that day.

Motivation and inspiration

The connections Stan formed with the nurses helped provide him the strength not only to stay positive, but to spread joy and inspiration to others as well.

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Stan’s goodbye cake from staff was an homage to his daily 10,000 steps.

Each day, Stan committed to walking 10,000 steps around the hospital unit, despite discomfort from the chemo. As he made his laps around the unit, he spread humor and levity by finding ways to laugh with the staff. His presence lit up the hallways, lifted people’s spirits and motivated them to overcome their own challenges.

When it was finally time for Stan to leave, his heartfelt goodbye from the staff wasn’t just a celebration of Stan’s success in overcoming the cancer—it was a celebration of the relationships he had formed.

“I made a personal connection with every person here,” says Stan. “They accepted me, they got to know me, and I…I sort of love them.”

Building strong, lasting connections with our patients is one way we’re driving a healthier future.