Elizabeth Edwards Loses Battle With Cancer at Age 61

Elizabeth Edwards cancer
Elizabeth Edwards dies at age 61

Today Elizabeth Edwards, former wife of one time North Carolina senator John Edwards, lost her six year battle with cancer.

Elizabeth was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, before her husband lost the bid for vice president. She was in remission a few years later, but in 2007 it returned and spread. Her cancer was classified as metastatic stage four cancer, confined mostly to the bones.

The family announced yesterday that Elizabeth’s treatment would end, because it would no longer be productive. She passed away at the family residence in North Carolina.

Here were her last public words, and her family’s statement:

As reported by CNN, the family said:

“Today we have lost the comfort of Elizabeth’s presence but she remains the heart of this family,” the statement said. “We love her and will never know anyone more inspiring or full of life.”

Elizabeth, who knew she was fighting an uphill battle, said at one point:

“Either you push forward with the things that you were doing yesterday or you start dying,”

In an interview, she also said the the whole business of her husband having an affair and fathering a child outside the marriage helped her refocus on what was important to her — namely being an advocate for the poor and health care reform. She also said it gave her time to refocus on being a mom.

She said once of her children, ranging in age from 10 to 28:

“I have to prepare for the possibility if I die before they are grown” to make them “able to function without an involved, engaged and admiring parent.”

Given that she struggled with cancer for so many years, her children and their future without her must have been an ever-present thought. I can’t imagine the pain of knowing she wouldn’t see two of them grow up.

Image: Tony the misfit/flickr

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