Jen McDevitt confessed to being sore after finishing the New York City Marathon on Sunday, but she wasn’t complaining. After all, according to the doctors who diagnosed her brain cancer four years ago, she’s supposed to be dead.
“It’s a good pain,” McDevitt told TODAY’s Natalie Morales during an interview Monday. “I’m alive, I’m here, I’ll be here next year.”
The 33-year-old wore the medal she won for finishing the marathon and looked as alive as anyone can be, which even her doctors view as something of a miracle.
Four years ago, just eight weeks after she gave birth to her son, Jack, she was diagnosed with brain cancer and given from three to five years to live.
McDevitt, who is from suburban Chicago, refused to accept the death sentence.
“Having someone tell you that you have three to five years to live, it just didn't settle with me,” she told NBC in a previously recorded interview. “I wasn't going to allow that to happen.”
She underwent chemotherapy, radiation treatments and a craniotomy that removed the tumor but also left her partially blind in her left eye and with a depression in her skull. And while she was undergoing all that treatment, she took up running.
"That was the only way that I knew how to fight this,” she told NBC. “I wanted to run this out of me, in any way that I could. And I thought ‘Well, running was something that I always wanted to do.’”
She turned it into a game, telling herself that each milestone she reached would beat back the disease a little more.
She told herself, “‘My MRI’s gonna be clear if I make it down to the next block,’” she said. “Then, ‘My tumor's not going to come back if I can go five miles.’ And it was things like that that just kept me going.”
McDevitt ran the 2004 Chicago Marathon, her first, and after she finished, her husband, Glen, started training with her, promising to run her next marathon with her. On Sunday in New York, he was at her side.
“It's fun to run together and you know, I’m always her wingman,” he told NBC. “I stay on her left side because she can't see very good there, and it helps her run.”
Initially, her doctors weren’t sure it was a good idea for her to be running while also doing chemo and radiation therapy. But when she switched her treatment to the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke Medical Center in Durham, N.C., Dr. Henry Friedman encouraged her to go for it.
“There is no question that exercise plays a huge role in improving the psychological and physical and maybe even the curative status of these patients,” Friedman told NBC. “We think it enhances her chances of doing well and we absolutely, unequivocally support her.”
It’s been a long battle. The cancer came back twice and McDevitt has undergone an additional craniotomy and has spent 44 months of the last four years on chemotherapy. But she’s in remission now and is determined to see her son grow up and live a long and healthy life.
She ran Sunday’s marathon with Team McGraw, a group sponsored by the Tug McGraw Foundation. A star relief pitcher with the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies, McGraw, the father of country music star Tim McGraw, died in 2004 of brain cancer.
The catchphrase McGraw coined for the Mets, “You gotta believe,” has become her mantra.
“It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it,” she told Morales. “I put my mind to ‘I’ll be cured.’ I’m going to live a long and healthy life.”
Learn more about the by visiting their .