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Elizabeth Edwards Dies of Cancer at 61

File photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards, died this morning, according to Associated Press reports quoting a family friend. Doctors advised against further treatment of her cancer, which had spread to her liver. She was 61 years old.

Her family released a statement saying “[T]oday we have lost the comfort of Elizabeth’s presence but she remains the heart of this family. We love her and will never know anyone more inspiring or full of life. On behalf of Elizabeth we want to express our gratitude to the thousands of kindred spirits who moved and inspired her along the way. Your support and prayers touched our entire family.”

President Obama issued a statement on Edwards’ passing saying: “In her life, Elizabeth Edwards knew tragedy and pain. Many others would have turned inward; many others in the face of such adversity would have given up. But through all that she endured, Elizabeth revealed a kind of fortitude and grace that will long remain a source of inspiration. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.”

Edwards, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, leaves behind three children. Their son Wade died in a car accident at the age of 16. Edwards was a lawyer and best-selling author who also played a prominent role in her husband’s presidential campaigns and more recently in the push for health care reform. Elizabeth and John Edwards separated this year after Mr. Edwards admitted to having an affair.

In 2007, Judy Woodruff reported on Elizabeth Edwards announcing that her breast cancer, first diagnosed in 2004, had returned but would not stop his bid for the Democratic nomination. Dr. Julie Gralow, associate director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and an oncologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine, spoke with Woodruff about breast cancer and innovations in cancer treatment.

After learning of her prognosis, Edwards posted a statement on her Facebook page, 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.

With love,


December 6, 2010

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Edwards spoke to NPR last year about “Facing Life’s Adversities.”

She talked to Charlie Rose in a two-part interview about her book ‘Resilience’ in 2009.

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