American Idol alum Jackie “Jax” Cole revealed in a new interview that she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in April and has since undergone surgery.
The 20-year-old singer — who finished in third place on season 14 of the hit Fox singing competition behind winner Nick Fradiani and runner-up Clark Beckham — opened up to My Central Jersey about her decision to refrain from sharing the news on social media.
“It was very unexpected,” Jax explained to the local news outlet on Monday, August 8. “When you’re 20 years old, you have this Superman entitlement mentality, like you’re indestructible. And sometimes all it takes is God telling you it’s time to take a break for you to understand that you are most certainly not.”
The New Jersey native first discovered a “small lump” on her throat while grocery shopping with her parents shortly before she took the stage for a performance at New York’s Webster Hall in April. She went to a local urgent-care center, where doctors discovered 18 tumors on her thyroid — 12 of which tested positive for cancer — and diagnosed her with Hashimoto’s disease, a type of hypothyroidism.
Jax later underwent surgery to have her thyroid and several nearby lymph nodes removed.
“The first thing I did when I found out about the cancer was crack a joke,” Jax told My Central Jersey. “My little bro knows me the best. The second they wheeled me out of surgery, he said, ‘Man! I tried to warn you the music business was cutthroat.’ Thank God I have people in my life that were there to help me deal with this when my reality finally clicked for me. I’m a tough guy, but I don’t think I have ever experienced anything scarier.”
During her recovery, the rocker binge-watched Game of Thrones and Orange Is the New Black, and also started working on new music, which she plans to release in the fall.
Jax is also preparing to participate in the 2016 TCS NYC Marathon on November 6 to raise money for Tuesday’s Children, an organization formed after the September 11 attacks to support families affected by terrorism and loss. (Jax’s father was a first responder during the attacks.)
“I have had some time to be with my own mind and reflect lately, and I think it’s time I give this thing a real shot,” she said on Monday. “I am a very theatrical person, so crossing that finish line on November 6 is what I want to do. To officially prove I can kick this thing’s ass.”
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