Gratitude for a Life Saved

A cancer survivor thanks UAB through a charitable remainder trust

Dwayne and Migleida Chatoney

Dwayne Chatoney and his wife, Migleida

On his 49th birthday, Dwayne Chatoney was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.

He received treatment at a hospital near his home in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Nine months later, the cancer returned, this time at stage 4. And this time, the hospital told him there was nothing they could do.

So Dwayne and his wife, Migleida, began hunting for another option. He was put on a waiting list for an appointment at one clinic, while others echoed the nothing-to-be-done sentiment. Then Dwayne learned about UAB. "My older brother told me they had a good hospital in Birmingham and that I should try to get in for an appointment," he recalls.

So he made a call, and in just a few days, Dwayne was at the Comprehensive Cancer Center—now the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB—meeting a team of physicians, running tests and developing a treatment plan. The first step was immediate surgery, but Dwayne still faced the prognosis of a 6% survival rate and about 11 months to live.

Three days later, the surgery was a success. Fifteen years later, Dwayne is still cancer free.

"How do you ever pay someone back for saving your life? You never really can," he says.

But he's trying. Dwayne and his wife have designated UAB as the beneficiary of a charitable remainder trust. The gift will support the James P. Hayes, Jr., Endowed Professorship in Gastrointestinal Oncology, which was established by Margaret Brunstad, the sister of another grateful patient, Jim Hayes, who died of colon cancer in 2008. The fund supports research and patient care, and the endowed position is held by Martin Heslin, M.D., who was Dwayne's physician.

After a risky surgery with complications—the cancer had spread throughout his stomach, liver and intestine and even surrounded his aorta—Dwayne still faced chemotherapy. He was given the option of using a treatment that was new in the United States at the time.

"I was in the first group at UAB to use that chemotherapy," Dwayne recalls. The six treatments "are hard on your body. The last one took me six weeks to get over."

But he credits UAB for offering the treatment, Heslin for providing a swift action plan and navigating a tricky surgery, and the entire clinic for its warmth and patient-centered focus. So when it came time for Dwayne to sell his business, a marine services company, he decided to give back by converting his asset into a charitable remainder trust.

Dwayne hopes he can play a role in furthering the work of the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB. "If I could help in some small way to give back to the university for what they did for me, that is what I want to accomplish."

There are many ways to give back to UAB through planned giving. To learn more, please contact the Office of Planned Giving at (205) 996-7533 or

When Dwayne Chatoney wanted to sell his business, his research led him to the option of a charitable remainder trust. It was the perfect choice for him and his family, he says. "Here I am at 65 years old, enjoying money off of it for my retirement. And when I pass, the money will go to UAB."

Here are reasons to consider a charitable remainder trust:

  1. You can care for yourself and your family first.
    You worked for years to build your assets, so enjoy them before leaving your legacy at UAB. Receive monthly payments that support you in your retirement.
  2. The asset you convert will be tax free.
    If you choose to leave property, a business or another asset to loved ones, they will be taxed. Giving to a charity such as UAB means all your dollars will be put to use.
  3. You can make a difference in an area that matters.
    When the time comes, you will get to make your mark on something important to you at UAB.


Kimberley S. Coppock, J.D.
Sr. Director of Development
Office of Planned Giving
(205) 975-5970

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