It was January when 46-year-old Jodi Cali got life-altering news: she had breast cancer.
Her doctors got her into chemotherapy right away. But she got sick right after her first treatment. "I had a lot of pain around my neck and my throat and my chest and we were attributing it to the port ... shortness of breath. I had the dry cough. I felt nauseous," the mother of three from Staten Island said.
"I was going through the chemo at the time I just thought it was the chemo," Cali said. Her doctors also thought it was a reaction to the chemo but her symptoms persisted much longer than chemo side effects should. When her fever spiked to 103, Cali went to the hospital and she was tested positive for COVID-19 and pneumonia.
Cali doesn't know how she got the coronavirus. It could have been during one of her several trips to the hospital after her cancer diagnosis.
The single mother of three had to battle two life-threatening illnesses – cancer and coronavirus – on her own all at once because she had to be isolated from her children.
Cali spoke to NBC New York on Monday, coronavirus free, with her daughters by her side.
"It was the most horrific month of my life. There were times I didn’t know if I was gonna make it," she said.
It took a month, an incredible amount of strength and faith but she did it. Cali beat COVID-19 and she taught her daughters invaluable life lessons
“She kinda taught us that we can do whatever we want if we put our minds to it and again this was a battle and she’s gonna win," daughter Julia Cali said.
"Every day is a battle and you just have to take it all in. Some days are gonna be horrible and some days are gonna be better. You just have to hope and pray that you’re gonna look back in a year or two years and say: she did that. She did it gracefully and strongly," said Jacquelyn Cali.
Cali had to pause her chemotherapy treatment while she battled COVID-19 but now she has 13 more treatments to go.
"This is just my battle and everyone’s fighting their battles and we’ll all get through it."