Patient Story

Jami and Phil: Missionaries pause work to battle dual cancer diagnoses

Jami (63) and Phil (62) Covone have spent the last seven years living in Mexico completing missionary work through their ministry, Covone Ministries, which they founded together in Stockbridge. However, the Covones had to put their work on pause when Jami was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2021.

Jami was shocked to receive her diagnosis, but with three grown children and her commitment to her ministry, she knew she needed to fight. 

On February 8, 2021, Jami had a mastectomy in Mexico, and seven lymph nodes were removed. Three weeks after this, the couple packed up their truck, left Mexico and returned to Atlanta to begin chemotherapy and radiation treatment. 

Once back in Atlanta, Jami saw oncology specialist Dr. Gurinderjit Kaur Sidhu at Northside Hospital where she underwent chemotherapy for five months before starting radiation treatment with radiation oncologist Dr. Ahmed Ali at Northside Hospital in Midtown.  

During her initial radiation consultation, Dr. Ali noticed a fullness in Phil’s neck. Upon examination, Dr. Ali believed the lump to be cause for concern and recommended Phil see Dr. John I. Song, a head & neck surgical oncologist with Atlanta Head & Neck Associates.  

Weeks later, Phil was also diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately, it was caught early and as soon as Jami was done with her treatment, Phil began his. 

Again, the duo had to hit pause on returning to Mexico for missionary work, while this time, Jami cared for Phil through his treatment.

Phil’s reaction to the simultaneous chemotherapy and radiation was so taxing on his body he thought of quitting. “I wanted to quit the treatment altogether. But whenever I walked into Northside, the staff treated me like I was the only patient in their world,” said Phil. The nurses at Northside Hospital convinced him to continue his treatment. 

Jami completed her radiation treatment on November 4, 2021, and Phil completed his treatment in late spring of 2022. 

When Jami and Phil look back on their cancer journeys, there is no way they would have made it through treatment without each other and without the support and help from Northside Hospital. With little income and concern about payment, the Covones worried about paying medical debt for the rest of their lives. But Northside Hospital Financial Assistance Program offered to help, and the Covones were quickly approved for financial aid. In addition, the Foundation offered other support services, like lodging, travel assistance to and from appointments and mental health resources. 

The Covones plan to permanently return to Mexico in February 2023 and look forward to completing their mission work. 


*The health story shared here may portray atypical results of survival for this type of cancer, given its severity and stage. Atypical results are considered surviving a cancer that has less than a 50% five-year survival rate. Patients should consult an expert to discuss specific treatment plans and the possible outcomes before making medical decisions.


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