News and Events Menu

2023 O’Neal Iron Strong Awards

Honorees at the 2023 O'Neal Iron Strong Awards
2023 O’Neal Iron Strong Awards honorees

The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB hosted its inaugural O’Neal Iron Strong Awards July 28, 2023, in the Barbara and Edward Partridge Atrium at Wallace Tumor Institute. The ceremony celebrated nine cancer survivors who benefitted from clinical trials and helped advance the knowledge on cancer care.

Honorees were greeted with a seated lunch followed by remarks from O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center Director Barry Sleckman, M.D., Ph.D. While highlighting the important role clinical trials play in advancing cancer care, Sleckman recognized both the awardees as well as the faculty and staff who aided in the success of the Cancer Center’s clinical trials program. He also extended an expression of gratitude toward the O’Neal family and shareholders for their naming gift in 2019. As he concluded his remarks, Sleckman reflected on the similarities in the mission of the cancer center and the work of O’Neal Industries, noting that “our patients are strong as iron.”

Director Barry Sleckman, M.D., Ph.D., presenting honoree Carolyn Graham with a medal.

Craft O’Neal, chairman and CEO of O’Neal Industries, spoke about the phrase that became the theme of the event: “difficultas ne deterrem.” A Latin phrase meaning “difficulties do not deter us,” this concept was shared by Craft O’Neal’s father and grandfather throughout his life. He added that this phrase not only applied to the moving of a prized magnolia tree that has become a symbol of the O’Neal family, it also represents the determination of the cancer center’s clinician-scientists, who work each and every day to pursue life without cancer.

Following opening remarks, emcee Jeh Jeh Pruitt, WBRC reporter and O’Neal advisory board member, began the presentation of medals to the cancer survivors. Pruitt shared stories of each honoree’s cancer journey before inviting them and their physician to the front, where they were presented with a medal.

Honorees included:

Michael Humphries, patient of Dr. Amitkumar Mehta
Gadsden, AL

Trevor Moultrie, patient of Dr. Raymond Watts
Birmingham, AL

Carolyn Graham, patient of Dr. Rebecca Arend
Talladega, AL

Albert Isaac, patient of Dr. Luciano Costa
Birmingham, AL

Selena Avalos, patient of Dr. Julie Wolfson
Birmingham, AL

Stephanie King, patient of Dr. Burt Nabors
Huntsville, AL

Susan Stewart, patient of Dr. Warner Huh
Birmingham, AL

Lenora Johnson, patient of Dr. Luciano Costa
Jackson, MS

Dana Hanshaw, patient of Dr. Pankit Vachhani
Anniston, AL

“It’s truly amazing when you stop to consider that a patient with a rare type of cancer who was once told she had just a few months to live is now doing well,” Sleckman noted. “We are grateful to be able to share the stories of these remarkable patients, who help us learn more in the fight against cancer. They are an inspiration to our investigators.”

The O’Neal Iron Strong Awards concluded with closing remarks from cancer survivor Tom Michaels—also a clinical trial participant—commending each honoree for their positivity throughout such a difficult journey.

—Holly Dunn

By using this site you agree to our Privacy Policy