Firefighters, Santa Visit Terminally-Ill Cancer Vic, Kids in NYC New York Daily News

NY Daily News - December 23, 2016

by TODD MAISEL RICH SCHAPIRO

The city’s bravest showed off their kindest side Thursday when more than a dozen firefighters brought Christmas cheer to a Brooklyn woman battling stage 4 colon cancer.

Amy Figliuolo, 39, wept tears of joy when three crews of smoke-eaters — one of them dressed in a Santa outfit — showed up at her Marine Park home to surprise her 10-year-old daughter and classmates.

The visit capped an extraordinary FDNY response after firefighters raised money to help Figliuolo and her husband buy Christmas presents for daughter Alyssa.

Crew members from Engine Co. 309 and Ladder Co. 159 quietly bought several gifts for mom and daughter — and snuck them into Figliuolo’s home when Alyssa wasn’t there.

“Everyone’s trying to make it such a beautiful Christmas for her,” said Figliuolo, who is now receiving hospice care. “You forget how wonderful people can be.”

The Figliuolos’ lives were turned upside down in January when Amy received the grim diagnosis.

She came down with a terrible cough eight months earlier — but her doctor misdiagnosed the problem.

By the time she was seen by specialists at Lutheran Hospital, her cancer had metastasized.

“It turned out it had nothing to do with my lungs and had already spread,” Amy Figliuolo said.

Figliuolo put her all into fighting the incurable form of cancer.

Over the past 11 months, she has endured several rounds of chemo, multiple surgeries and a collapsed lung.

“You name it, we’ve battled it,” Figliuolo said.

As Figliuolo’s condition worsened, her husband John was forced to take a leave from his job as a supervisor at the Bayonne Dry Dock in New Jersey.

Figliuolo’s prognosis grew even more dire a few weeks ago when doctors told her she isn’t responding to treatment and may not have much time left.

Neighbor Laura Allen soon found out about the family’s financial strain and made it her mission to create “Amy’s perfect Christmas.”

“Amy’s a very humble soul,” Allen said. “She’s never asked for anything as long as I’ve known her.

“It’s an overwhelming burden what they’re going through,” Allen added. “They just needed some help.”

Allen told everyone she knew about the Figliuolo family’s plight.

Meanwhile, Alyssa’s school, Public School 22, arranged to have her and members of her fifth-grade chorus sing Christmas carols for Figliuolo outside her home.

Allen’s friend Margaret Martin put out a private Facebook message asking if area firefighters could show up at the concert to surprise the children.

The message caught the attention of Firefighter Joe Lankford, who rallied the guys to buy gifts. The FDNY Captain Timothy Stackpole Memorial Foundation also joined the effort.

The FDNY members decided to take an extra step beyond the call of duty — showing up in three trucks, with off-duty Firefighter Greg Santangelo, 41, dressed up in a Santa costume.

“There wasn’t a dry eye,” said Santangelo, of Ladder 153. “It’s a good thing I had the hair and beard covering my face.”

A Daily News photographer stumbled onto the emotional scene.

“It’s hard to even put into words. It just warms my heart,” Figliuolo said afterward.

“Everyone’s taking pictures and I’m in tears just seeing my daughter so happy.

“That’s all that counts to me,” she added, “my daughter being happy.”