Elizabeth Edwards, an American heroine, died today, after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. She was only 61 years old. Elizabeth was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after her husband lost his bid for vice president in November 2004. It was later revealed that she knew before the election she might have cancer, but shielded her husband from the news during the campaign. She immediately underwent treatment, and the cancer was believed to be in remission.
Dr. Lisa Carey, the oncologist treating Elizabeth, categorized the cancer as metastatic stage four cancer, largely confined to the bones. Despite the diagnosis, Edwards said she was ready to go on with life. "Either you push forward with the things that you were doing yesterday or you start dying," she said. "If I had given up everything that my life was about ... I'd let cancer win before it needed to."
Elizabeth Edwards was born Mary Elizabeth Anania on July 3, 1949, in Jacksonville, Florida. Her father was a Navy pilot, and in her early years, she attended school in Japan. She attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and met her future husband, John, while studying at UNC's law school. They spent their first date dancing at a local Holiday Inn, and it ended with John kissing Elizabeth on the forehead. "It was just really sweet," she said of the kiss. "I wasn't used to men being sweet." The couple was married July 30, 1977, the Saturday after they took their state bar exams. They had four children: Wade, Cate, Emma Claire, and Jack. Wade Edwards was killed in a car accident in 1996.
Mrs. Edwards worked as a clerk for U.S. District Judge Calvitt Clarke Jr. in Norfolk, Virginia, and was a very successful bankruptcy lawyer in Raleigh. In 2006, after her initial cancer diagnosis, she wrote "Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers," which chronicled the aftermath of her son's death and her battle with the disease. When her cancer returned in 2007, she continued her political and "support for humanitarian causes" life. Her actively political husband John who ran for President, had a disasterous affair which ended his political career. Elizabeth Edwards, a truly strong and herioc American, through every difficulty, including her son's death, her husband's affair, and her severe illness said her husband's incident helped her focus on resuming her role as an advocate for the poor and for health care reform. She also said it pushed her to refocus on her role as a mother. (Note: Elizabeth Edwards strength and fortitude is truly, truly a role model for any of us who may ever face adversity!)
She also said she did not want her husband's tarnished public image to overshadow his role as an advocate for the poor -- particularly in the eyes of her children. "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," she said. "So I need to create the picture for them that I want them to have."
She said living with stage four cancer "is like dancing with a partner who keeps changing. Fortunately with the research, it looks like there may be a new drug for me down the line," she said. "My job is to stay alive until they find a cure. I don't think there's any way to live with this diagnosis than to have that kind of optimism."
The Proud and the Strong Ms. Edwards passed away today. We truly, truly lost an American Heroine! May God Bless Her as she passes on to the next stage. (Elizabeth, we will MISS You, Love, Dee)
Note to commenters: Today is our day to honor Elizabeth (our HERO) for her heroism and her strength. No negative comments about her husband will be published. Today is Elizabeth's day!