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Elizabeth Edwards Dies Of Breast Cancer

By December 7, 2010

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Elizabeth Edwards
Elizabeth Edwards at Stand Up To Cancer
Photo Getty Images/Fredrick M. Brown

The family of Elizabeth Edwards reported Monday that her breast cancer had spread beyond the breast and bones to her liver. This afternoon, they reported that she has died. Family sources say that all three children, as well as John Edwards, were with Elizabeth at her own home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Her doctors had hospitalized her last week and treated her, and then advised her that further treatment for her cancer would be unproductive. Elizabeth Edwards announced that she would stop taking treatment for her Stage 4 breast cancer and transition to palliative care.

Edwards was 61 and had been diagnosed with breast cancer when husband John Edwards was in the presidential race of 2004. She recounted her diagnosis and the political whirl she was involved in with her book, "Saving Graces." Then in March 2007, it was discovered that her cancer has progressed to metastatic, spreading to a bone. In 2008, John Edwards was making a bid for the U.S. Presidency while his wife was fighting breast cancer. During the campaign, he met videographer Rielle Hunter, with whom he had a daughter. Not until January 2010 did Edwards publicly acknowledge the child as his own. John and Elizabeth Edwards separated soon after his confession.

Elizabeth Edwards had four children: Wade, Cate, Emma, and Jack.  Wade died as a teenager in an unexplained one-car accident. His parents mourned him, his mother especially so. Daughter Cate is a 28-year old lawyer, following her mother's chosen profession. Emma is 12, Jack is 10 - both younger children were conceived with the help of fertility drugs taken after the death of Wade Edwards.

Politically savvy, tough and resilient, Elizabeth Edwards posted a message on Facebook this Monday, saying, "You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces - my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human.

"But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful. It isn't possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel to everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know."

As Mrs. Edwards writes, we don't know how long we will live. Some of us get the chance to say goodbye and some of us have to leave unexpectedly. If given the chance, we can depart with grace and forgiveness despite all the struggles we have endured. Or we can choose to live in such a way that we are always prepared to go at a moment's notice.

What will you remember about Elizabeth Edwards? Leave a comment below.

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December 7, 2010 at 6:07 pm
(1) Mary Shomon says:

My mother had breast cancer as well. And when Elizabeth Edwards first announced her diagnosis, I wrote her a note, just to say that my mom had done well with the breast cancer, and that I just felt bad for her, and wished her well. She’d come off a campaign, which is grueling, which they’d lost, and then to have the breast cancer diagnosis — it was a lot to deal with. I was shocked when a few months later, I received a hand written note back from her. I thought that gesture said a lot about her.

December 8, 2010 at 7:58 am
(2) Patricia says:

With deepest sympathy to the children. This was a remarkable lady and she is so admired by the people.

December 8, 2010 at 9:24 am
(3) Susan Jordan says:

She had such grace and courage in the face of painful circumstances. When I was diagnosed she immediately came to mind as an example of how to cope. She refused to defined by breast cancer and in her own words, “I am not a victim”. Thank you Elizabeth.

December 8, 2010 at 9:51 am
(4) Becky Stockum says:

A very classy, caring & tough woman. She handled the health & family problems out in the public eye. She cared so much for family, friends & others. She seemed real–a good woman!!!

December 8, 2010 at 10:32 am
(5) Sherrie says:

Rest in Peace, your hard work here on Earth is done, you left a huge impact and I along with everyone else Thanks you for being YOU!

One Tough, Strong, Unstoppable Women!

God Bless your family in this extremely difficult time.

December 8, 2010 at 11:17 am
(6) caridad says:

She was everywoman. She represented women’s highest aspirations as well as women’s biggest fears. Even now, even after her passing, she leaves us with this legacy. Yes, Elizabeth’s body has died, but something of her remains for I feel within me the spirit of her life and it makes me smile in gratitude for having had her in our world for 61 years.

December 8, 2010 at 11:18 am
(7) Diane says:

My aunt died a few years ago of a breast cancer recurrence at the same age as Elizabeth – just 61. My twin was diagnosed at age 33, I had the same at 39. We are living ‘incidence free’ but as we all know, unfortunately, there seems to be no rhyme nor reason when it might come back. That is God’s job to know. I pray for peace for her family and especially her wonderful children. They were blessed in their lives by her presence.

December 8, 2010 at 12:22 pm
(8) phyllis spencer says:

I had breast cancer 20 yrs ago, so I know the pain & heartache that goes with iT. I thank god everyday that i am still alive, Elizabeth will always be a hero, she was so brave. God will take care of her now, I feel great sorrow for her family. Rest in peace. She is an angel.

December 8, 2010 at 2:22 pm
(9) funny girl says:

A woman that will be dearly missed. She was intelligent, funny, warm and brave to the very end. The world, her children and her husband were very lucky to have her in their lives. She is irreplaceable and no one can hold a candle to her.

December 8, 2010 at 8:20 pm
(10) Marilyn Strobel says:

What a wonderful woman she was! She was gutsy, brave and real – and by the process of fertility drugs, she likely increased her risks. However, she wanted her children more than herself. What a gift. She will be missed on so many levels.

December 10, 2010 at 2:49 pm
(11) Tony Kellen says:

Sorry to read she passed away. I thought she was cancer
free a couple years ago. I guess the disease can come back
at anytime. I was diagnosed with Head/neck cancer in May,
2010. I am told I am cancer free as of my last PET Scan. I’m
still undergoing chemo. I’ll take Ms. Edwards advice and not
neglect regular checkups. P.I.P. E. Edwards.

December 11, 2010 at 9:04 am
(12) Tope Akinnola says:

My deepest sympathies to Mrs Edwards’ family…she was a tough woman who stood tall and firm for the values she cherished…who hoped against hope for the health we take for granted…and who was graceful even when death came knocking…Rest in peace.

December 11, 2010 at 4:54 pm
(13) Carmen says:

I was terribly saddened by the news of her passing. My sympathies go out to her family. I am a cancer fighter, I have just finished my 4th cycle of chemotherapy and as I go to work every day, I have to think of the strength and courage which Elizabeth exhibited to the world. I, too, want to exhibit the love, courage, hope, strength and faith that she did…..and in my opinion, that’s a small thing. Let’s all take a lesson…..tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Re-think your priorities…is it that Mercedes…..or is it a day at a park with your children, where you will always cherish those memories……let’s all draw a line in the sand…..thank GOD for the life he has given us…..and make the most of it while you can.

December 12, 2010 at 5:38 am
(14) Vincent 87 says:

I am praying for the family and friends that will be forever scared by the loss of such a find lady. I am a teacher in the Detroit area who respected Mrs. Edwards for her ethics and stand on major social issues that challenged families in the United States. I too am a suvivor of cancer. I understand the stuggles she comfronted. God called her home. She is at peace. She has no more hearaches or health problems to overcome. If she knew the Savior she is most definately in a better place than we are today!

December 12, 2010 at 5:40 am
(15) Meizke says:

Rest in Peace, Elizabeth, for you are the epitome of strength and fortitude. Truly you stand to be a mentor for us all to admire. You are missed.


December 29, 2010 at 9:06 am
(16) Cathy Fusco says:

Rest In Peace dear lady. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer this year, and had surgery the day before my Birthday. The nurses all said “Oh! What a great birthday present, you will be Cancer free.” I didn’t see it that way, at the time. Mine was stage 1 with no lymph node involvement, and with 6 weeks of radiation I am now on Tamoxifen, which I am not enjoying. I have a 10 percent reoccurence according to the Oncologist, but the fear stays with you in back of your mind. My Father had stage 3 Breast Cancer and is a 14 year survivor. I hope to be one, too.

December 29, 2010 at 10:41 am
(17) Maureen S. says:

Elizabeth Edwards was a beautiful person, wonderful mother and wonderful wife. God Bless her family for their loss. I myself have gone through a mastectomy, chemo and reconstruction in the past six months. My cousin, who was six years younger than myself lost her battle with breast cancer almost two years ago at the young age of 44. I can relate to the sorrow and loss of a family member that was loved so much.

January 2, 2011 at 7:54 pm
(18) gay banson says:

What a brave woman!….she will always be an inspiration to me for just like her, I was also diagnosed to have breast cancer stage 4, which spread to almost all of my bones.

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