In discussing the importance of a positive attitude for healthy aging, I promised a post about a patient and friend who exemplifies this character trait. Alec Woodhull was born and raised in south Florida where he met the love of his life, Pati. They have been married for 56 wonderful years. Moving to Knoxville in 1963, they planted deep roots having a son and two daughters and many grandchildren.
Alec has blessed the lives of so many. He was instrumental in starting the Young Life club at Farragut High School which has thrived for many years. Along with a Romanian Pastor, Eugen Groza, he formed a mission alliance which serves thousands of Romanians in the name of Christ. His business as an insurance agent was a source of income but, more than that, a way to serve. Being good friends with his son Kenny has given me inside knowledge of the love and wisdom he shared as a father. Finally, as his doctor for the last few years, I have received far more than I have given, witnessing incredible thankfulness and joy in the midst of serious illness.
Alec has had more than his share of illness. He has had 3 different forms of cancer which have led to surgery multiple times, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. He has suffered for many years with an enlargement of the heart muscle (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). Sudden spells of lightheadedness caused by heart disease and medication have caused several horrible falls resulting in broken bones, severe lacerations and disability made worse by a broken back caused by a boating accident. To top it off, he has had kidney stones, one of the more painful maladies. All of this he has faced with courage, an undying and infectious smile (see picture), a thankful heart and, as far as I know, no grumbling. He attributes this attitude to his faith in God and an overwhelming sense that, in suffering, he continues to be richly blessed. Alec is an example worth following for me and so many others. I’m thankful for the privilege of observing his life as doctor and friend!