Walker paid it forward, now she needs help

Published 12:58 am Thursday, March 28, 2019

Andalusia local Amy Walker’s journey with cancer has had its ups, downs and miracles.

A year ago, Walker was diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome acute lymphoblastic leukemia and she has been battling ever since.

Before she was diagnosed with the disease, her husband, Anthony Migliaccio Jr., said that she was caring and devoted to helping those around her.

“She is a mother,” Migliaccio said. “She helped raise two boys as well as some of her nieces and nephews. She also used to help a lot with Relay for Life when we worked out at Sitel. She was just that kind of caregiver person where she always volunteered for stuff as a mom with the boys. Amy has always been that type of person that has stepped in and helped everybody. That is one thing that I will say about her, she was really big in the community and would lend a hand to anybody.”

Walker would always help raise funds for people in need, Migliaccio said.

“She was a baker, so she would always do bake sales,” Migliaccio said. “I remember when we lived in Ohio and my work family was doing a benefit for cancer and it had snowed that week. Amy still baked all night long, set up that table and sold those goods. She never stopped and she never gave up. There was another time in Andalusia when I was working at Rent-A-Center and one of my employees got hit by a car going 60 miles per hour. Amy started a fundraiser for him. She then got all of the ladies in the community to help and she raised $3,500 for him and his family.”

Walker began her battle with the disease on March 22, 2018.

“She was diagnosed with leukemia at a regular check-up,” Migliaccio said. “They started treatment immediately, but they were having to treat two different things because she has Philadelphia chromosome disease on top of the leukemia. So they have to treat the leukemia first in order to the get the Philadelphia chromosome disease under control. With that disease, it is like your chromosomes are out of place and they swap with each other so it causes all types of blood disorders and things like that.”

She went into remission of May of 2018 after receiving treatment, but the cancer came back even more aggressively.

“She was able to come back home,” Migliaccio said. “But then she went back to the hospital because she was feeling really bad and was hospitalized a lot with a lot of infections. So, she went back in for another check-up and the leukemia came back aggressively.”

Migliaccio said that in September 2018, Walker began a more aggressive chemotherapy, because the original chemotherapy was not strong enough.

“She continued the treatment into October,” Migliaccio said. “Then she went to Birmingham, where she started pill chemotherapy. After two months, she did another bone marrow biopsy and the doctors said that there was less than 5 percent until she was in remission again. They did another test in January, and they reported that the cancer had come back even more aggressively and was embedded in the bone marrow.”

At the end of January, the couple looked at another option, induction chemotherapy, which Migliaccio said would have been the last resort in Alabama.

“Because of her health conditions, that was the last resort they had in Alabama,” Migliaccio said. “So we started on that treatment and then at the end of February, her heart bottomed out and she was put in the ICU for four days. After that, we were trying to get her in remission with all of this happening, but they had to stop treatment so they could get her heart healthy, then start it back up again when her heart was healthy enough.”

After another bone marrow biopsy, and some harrowing news, the couple knew that those results were different than before.

“The entire family was up there when she got another bone marrow biopsy,” Migliaccio said. “And when she got the results back, we knew that we got it back fairly quick. Usually it takes 48 hours to get back, but the doctor was already back in the morning. He looked at both of us and asked if we could get our children out of the room. He has never done that before, so we kind of panicked. That is when he gave us the news that the only other option was that she was going to go home with hospice and he gave her four weeks before the leukemia would go up her back and into her brain. That was the beginning of March.”

What happened next, Migliaccio could only describe as a miracle.

“Whether you’re spiritual or not, a miracle happened,” Migliaccio said. “The doctor came back the next day with an option that could also kill her, but we had 24 hours to decide, because they had to start it immediately.”

A clinical medicine called Bioplacenta may have been what Walker needed to keep her alive.

“It is the only one in Alabama that she could take,” Migliaccio said. “She has epileptic seizures sometimes, so she is not supposed to be on this medicine, but he said that it was up to us, and it could lead to death either way we go. We got the boys together and we decided to go with this route. I can only say that the first 48 hours were rough, the first 10 days were even rougher, but the end result for this treatment is that she is now doing very well.”

Migliaccio said that the next 28-day cycle of the medicine is critical if they want to get Walker into remission.

“If this medicine fails, and we will find that out on April 4 when we get a biopsy,” Miglaccio said. “Then we will stop treatment here, and that is when we will go to Houston to seek other options. If it is successful then we will try and get a stem cell transplant.”

Despite the ups and downs, Migliaccio said that Walker has been very upbeat the entire journey.

“She is definitely a trooper,” Migliaccio said. “I know that I could not do it. She has been very upbeat though. She got to enjoy her son’s 15th birthday party and it was outside. She is up moving around and doing a little bit more so that is great.”

Migliaccio said that the community has been more than supportive through the entire journey.

“The community has been helpful as always,” Migliaccio said. “Andalusia has always been very helpful. Amy said that no matter what, we are going to do Relay for Life this year.”

Though Migliaccio said that they would appreciate prayers more than money, the family is asking for donations for their travel and medical expenses. There is a Facebook page set up that has already accumulated $1,420 of the $2,500 goal and the family is very appreciative of the donations.

“Prayers are the most important thing,” Miglaccio said. “Because they have been working.”

The Facebook donation page can be found at “Medical Expenses Travel to Houston Texas.”