Phoebe Foundation Announces Wright Woodall as 2022 Lights of Love Tree Lighter

Staff Report

Monday, November 7th, 2022

This holiday season, the Phoebe Foundation will honor local cancer patients and their families with its beloved annual Lights of Love tree lighting ceremony. Wright Woodall, of Albany, has been named the honorary tree lighter for this year’s ceremony, which will take place on Thursday, December 1 at 7 p.m. outside the Phoebe Cancer Center. 

Wright Woodall has spent his entire life in Albany and for the past 40 plus years has operated his family’s chain of local gas stations and convenience stores. So, when he needed advanced cancer care, he saw no reason to leave home. Woodall’s cancer was discovered after a scan during his annual physical in 2017 showed several spots on his left lung. His primary care physician, Dr. Joe Jackson, pushed to uncover a definitive answer rather than just observing it for a few months. Ultimately, a biopsy confirmed it was cancer. “Before Dr. (Chirag) Jani came in that night, we thought the worst. He said, ‘it’s going to be okay.’ And when your doctor says that, and you believe he means it, you believe it’s going to be okay,” Woodall said.

Dr. Jani referred Woodall to one of the country’s foremost lung cancer experts at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta to increase his chances of being prescribed Keytruda. The immunotherapy drug is now a common and successful treatment for multiple forms of cancer, but five years ago, it was still experimental and approved for use only in specific cases.

“I had the option of having my treatment there at Emory with the lung cancer guru, but I opted to have it here because I knew the level of care at Phoebe was great, and I wanted to be at home,” Woodall said.

Woodall went through six months of chemotherapy at the Phoebe Cancer Center. Though difficult, he said he didn’t dread going to his treatments. “I used to look forward to going to treatment, and nobody looks forward to chemo, but you get waited on hand and foot. I always jokingly said, ‘I call it the Ritz at Phoebe.’ Other than fatigue, I didn’t have any significant side effects from the chemo,” added Woodall.

He continued to take Keytruda for two and a half years and had no further problems until June 2021. When he started having involuntary movement in his left arm, an MRI showed the lung cancer had spread to his brain. He met with Dr. Jay McAfee, radiation oncologist and friend, who helped eased his concern and Dr. Kim Brown, neurosurgeon, who removed the brain tumor.

The radiation treatments that followed were successful. Now, Woodall gets regular MRI and CT scans to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned. Thanks to the expertise of his care teams, the love of his family, the support of his community and his own determination, Woodall is doing good. He is as happy as ever, and if he runs into you the next time you’re filling up your tank at a Woodall’s, he’ll gladly stop for a friendly chat.

The other honorary tree lighters are Angela Smith, of Americus, at Phoebe Sumter and Lindsay Culpepper, of Sylvester, at Phoebe Worth. Their stories of hope, along with Woodall’s can be found by visiting

Lights will be lit in the thousands in honor and memory of loved ones, and donations to the beloved holiday event will benefit oncology patients receiving treatments at Phoebe. A symbolic light of love can be purchased for a suggested $25. To donate, call (229) 931-1300 or visit  

The public is invited to the Lights of Love ceremony outside the Phoebe Cancer Center in Albany on Thursday, December 1 at 7 p.m.