'American Idol' contestant from N.J. overcomes thyroid cancer to run NYC Marathon

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Michelle Charlesworth has the latest details.

You may know one of the runners in this year's TCS New York City Marathon from "American Idol" last season.

Jax, who is 20 now, has been playing piano since she was 5. She started playing the Stone Pony at age 11, so she is no stranger to pressure. And signing up last minute to run 26.2 miles sounded like a great idea, right after overcoming thyroid cancer.

At 18 on "American Idol," she did better than any other New Jersey contestant to date, finishing in third place. Then she got back out, writing and recording, but her journey took a unexpected detour when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and 18 tumors were found.

"Twelve of them were cancerous," she said. "(But) I'm singing nonstop."

And running. So why the marathon?

"I want to feel like I'm in the epitome of good shape," she said. "They told me I could start working out again, and then I took it to my OCD extreme. 'Oh really, I can work out, maybe I'll do a marathon,' and then started training to be in the best shape I could be."

Jax is running for the charity Tuesday's Children, because her dad was a 9/11 first responder from Engine 276.

She says fighting cancer and running have not detracted from her music. Quite the opposite, in fact.

"Just down to my heart rate and my muscles and my bones, I had to channel my body and be very in touch with myself," she said. "Otherwise, I would have just fell asleep."

For her, music is like meditation.

"Oh my gosh, yes, tons (of songs are coming out of this); I was just talking to my parents in the car and had to choose from this list of music," she said. "We have a record on there called 'Stars,' and the concept is that they can't shine without darkness."

And maybe because of some darkness, this star is shining bright.
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