Elizabeth Edwards stops treating cancer

Family gathers at her home

Staff WriterDecember 7, 2010 

— Elizabeth Edwards is facing her final fight against cancer.

Doctors advised Edwards, 61, that further treatment would be futile, according to a statement from the family released Monday afternoon.

Edwards, who is separated from former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, has been the public face of the fight against cancer since 2004 when she noticed a lump on her breast during a presidential campaign trip for John Edwards and John Kerry, 12 days before the 2004 election. She began treatment soon after Kerry and Edwards conceded the election and spent much of 2005 undergoing chemotherapy and radiation after surgery.

Elizabeth Edwards posted a message to friends on her Facebook page late Monday afternoon.

She wrote in part: "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."

Friends say that Edwards' family has gathered around her at their home outside of Chapel Hill. Former Sen. Edwards, who separated from his wife after acknowledging that he fathered a child with his mistress, has moved back home to help care for Elizabeth and their two young children.

Elizabeth Edwards approached her battle against breast cancer with the same candor she used to talk about the 1996 death of her son Wade.

In her 2006 memoir, "Saving Graces," she writes about vomiting on a doctor's shoes after being injected with anti-cancer drugs. She wrote about shaving her head and the constant pain delivered by high-powered drugs.

"There was no respite in being still: when I would lie down in bed, it was constant pain from head to toe," she wrote. "Walking was difficult - I would plan my trips up or down stairs - and writing [was] almost impossible."

Edwards became a passionate spokeswoman for health care access during her husband's second primary campaign for the presidency. After he dropped out of the race, she largely disappeared from the limelight.

Back to a private life

A humiliating sex scandal, an investigation into campaign finance violations during John Edwards' presidential run, and a second memoir "Resilience" occasionally drew Elizabeth into the public eye in the past two years.

In recent months, she returned to the unassuming life she had led before her family rocketed onto the political scene in 1998, when John Edwards secured a U.S. Senate seat.

She opened a furniture store in Chapel Hill. She took her children, Jack and Emma Claire, to UNC basketball games or shopping at Target.

Her Facebook message continued: "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."

mandy.locke@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8927

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