A Journey of Hope

Learning that he might never walk again sent Jamie Alamillo on an odyssey of a lifetime.

In fall of 2013, Jamie Alamillo and his family heard news that would change their lives forever: “Jamie has a 1 percent chance of ever walking again.”

Prior to that, Alamillo had lower back pain that he thought was caused by exercise. “My back felt like it was thrown out,” he said. “I was 43 so I thought it would take longer to heal. It would come back and go away.” Then the pain came back “with a vengeance.” 

“One night, I told my wife that something didn’t feel right, and then a few minutes later I was paralyzed from the waist down.”

He went to Henry Mayo's Emergency Department where physicians discovered lesions on his spine, eventually finding that the lesions had fractured his spine in two places. An emergency surgery was then performed by Mark Liker, MD.

Post-surgery, Alamillo’s family was told he had an advanced case of multiple myeloma—a rare disease that causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow—and that he had a 1 percent chance of walking again. 

“Henry Mayo physician Dr. Alexander Black wanted to get me into therapy as soon as I could,” Alamillo said. “I wanted to do chemotherapy immediately, but I was told I had to wait and heal first. I have two little kids and didn’t want to wait.”

Before Alamillo began his chemotherapy and radiation treatments, he went through an extensive physical therapy rehabilitation program at Henry Mayo. 

“[The physical therapists] asked me, ‘What do you want to get out of this?’ My response? ‘I want to walk!’ From that point on, I knew the Henry Mayo staff was on my side, and I knew they believed in me.” 

“I’ve heard horror stories that some [physical] therapists go through the motions when they receive patients like me, but that did not happen with the Henry Mayo therapists. They never gave up. I owe Henry Mayo my life.”— Jamie Alamillo

After a year of physical therapy, Alamillo was showing progress. “I was able to regain some movement in my toes and in my legs,” he said. Two years after receiving that life-changing news, he was walking again, even competing in a half-marathon in 2015. To date, Alamillo has logged over 1,400 miles of activity, including nine half-marathons, five century rides and a triathlon; he also raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He has been in remission since 2014.

“Henry Mayo [physical therapists] felt my passion and knew that I wanted to walk,” said Alamillo. “I just can’t thank them enough.” IYH

For more information on Henry Mayo’s physical therapy department, visit our website or call 661.200.2000.