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Believe it or not, while most people can't wait to retire from the workforce and start working on their bucket list, at age 65, Dr. Leila Denmark stopped practising as a pediatrician at the tender age of 103. She was also the fourth oldest person in the world when she died in April, 2012 age 114. 

Dr Denmark was born in Georgia in 1898, the third of twelve children. She studied medicine at the University of Georgia and was the only woman in her 1928 graduating class. She opened her pediatrics practice from home in 1931, and kept it open for 70 years. She was also the first resident physician at the Henrietta Egleston Hospital for Children in Atlanta in 1928. Her grandson said of her, “she absolutely loved medicine more than anything else in the world. She never referred to it as work”.

Over her career she received alumni awards from Tift College, Mercer University, Georgia Southern and the Medical College of Georgia, and honorary degrees from Tift, Mercer and Emory University. She also received a Fisher Award in 1935 for her work on whooping cough - she co-developed the pertussis vaccine in the 1920’s. 

What was her secret to longevity? On her 100th birthday, she refused to eat cake fearful of the sugar in it. On her 103rd birthday she sent back another cake and apologetically explained that she hadn’t eaten anything but natural sugar in the preceding 70 years. 


I personally also think of sugar as a "frienemy" too (something you perceive as a friend which is actually your kryptonite). I'm forever opening my lunch drawer at work - it's the bottom drawer of my examination table - to show people that even though I don't have diabetes, I still use artificial sweeteners like stevia. So I do get to have my cake and eat it too. If I'm on the right track I'll update this page seventy years from now. 

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