Elizabeth Edwards: Mother, Lawyer, Advocate

Elizabeth Edwards has died after her long struggle with breast cancer.

Elizabeth Edwards, the political wife whose public battle with breast cancer, coping with marital infidelity and continued advocacy for the downtrodden raised her profile above that of her husband, died Tuesday, WRAL News has learned.

Edwards, 61, died at her Chapel Hill home, where family and friends had gathered in recent days after doctors informed her that her cancer had spread and recommended that she not undergo further treatment.

Edwards was first diagnosed with cancer in the waning days of the 2004 presidential campaign, when her husband, then-U.S. Sen. John Edwards, was the Democratic nominee for vice president. The couple didn’t disclose her illness until after the election.

The cancer went into remission after surgery and months of treatment, but it resurfaced in early 2007, as John Edwards was mounting a second run at the White House. The Edwardses agreed at the time that they wouldn’t allow the cancer to derail his candidacy.

Because the cancer had moved into her bones, her doctors said at that time that it was no longer curable but could be treated.

Notable Tweets:

marcambinder Marc Ambinder

Edwards family asking for donations to be made to Wade Edwards Learning Lab http://www.wade.org/

nytimes The New York Times

We just published the full obituary of Elizabeth Edwards. http://nyti.ms/gCmsBq

TheFix The Fix

Elizabeth Edwards’ obits (all worth the read): Times http://ht.ly/3lxQz, Raleigh N&O http://ht.ly/3lxRL, Politico http://ht.ly/3lxSj

thedailybeast The Daily Beast

Elizabeth Edwards Dies at 61: Jonathan Alter remembers her quiet nobility. http://thebea.st/fbbRJ0

Slate Slate

Elizabeth Edwards should have been the politician — a true missed opportunity. RIP http://slate.me/gKMETY

ThinkProgress has a thread up on ‘The Legacy of Elizabeth Edwards’ and her tireless advocacy of health care access for the poor.

ThinkProgress is devastated and heartbroken to hear that the health of our dear friend and colleague Elizabeth Edwards has deteriorated, as she wages her courageous battle against breast cancer. A long-time advocate of universal health care, Elizabeth transformed a personal medical tragedy into an instrument for social and political change after her initial diagnosis in November 2004. In the process, she gave voice to the millions of Americans who were left behind by our health system.

With her trademark courage, activism, and strong sense of justice, Elizabeth directly confronted the inequalities of the American health care system and the politicians who perpetuated them. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Elizabeth — a regular contributor to the Wonk Room throughout the health care reform debate and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress — took to our blog and challenged conservatives for releasing a health care plan that would have excluded millions of Americans who suffered from pre-existing or chronic conditions. “Why are people like me left out of your health care proposal,” Elizabeth asked Republicans, pointing out that market-based proposals would leave millions of Americans “outside the clinic doors” and allow insurance companies free reign to continue excluding sicker beneficiaries.

Update: We now have more statements and reactions to Elizabeth Edwards’ Death including ones from the President former President Bill Clinton, and SOS Hillary Clinton.

Statement from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Elizabeth Edwards. America has lost a passionate advocate for building a more humane and just society, for reforming our health care system, and for finding a cure for cancer once and for all. But the Edwards family and her legion of friends have lost so much more — a loving mother, constant guardian, and wise counselor. Our thoughts are with the Edwards family at this time, and with all those people across the country who met Elizabeth over the years and found an instant friend–someone who shared their experiences and offered empathy, understanding and hope. She made her mark on America, and she will not be forgotten.”

38 Comments on “Elizabeth Edwards: Mother, Lawyer, Advocate”

  1. Delphyne says:

    So very sad…she was a force of good and she will be missed, not only by her children and family, but by those of us who were/are inspired by the work she has done. RIP, Elizabeth….

  2. I am so sad. A personal shero. Our country just lost a national treasure. May she be in peace at last and her kids and loved ones be surrounded by love.

    (repeating this from the last thread)

  3. Sima says:

    Just read the headline at the Beeb and now here. It makes me very sad. I was hoping her children would have one last holiday season with her.

  4. mablue2 says:

    This is really sad. She fought valiantly and even tried to keep the career of that bum John Edwards going.

    Death, be not proud.

  5. dakinikat says:

    She was a tireless advocate for the poor suffering from the results of Hurricane Katrina. She was a frequent visitor to the lower ninth ward and helped a lot of folks here. That was one of the reasons I originally leaned towards John Edwards prior to watching the debates in 2008. I thought she really understand what it was like to be in poverty.

    We’ll miss her here.

    • grayslady says:

      I didn’t know that. One more reason to miss her.

    • Woman Voter says:

      Funny, but the first time out, I supported Edwards over Kerry, then went with the ticket. Then this last one, I started off with Edwards, but switched to Hillary as she began to speak more and more to the causes I cared about. Edward’s pre-occupation was a factor in losing supporters, albeit no one knew at the time why he lost the touch/connection with the people at the time.

      Elizabeth was a big part Edwards, had grass roots supporters, if he doesn’t see that, he has learned nothing and doesn’t know what a wonderful lady she was.

      RIP (((Elizabeth’s passing got me crying a couple of times today…I really thought she was going to have just a little more time)))

      • Silent Kate says:

        That monster called cancer, when it makes that final attack shows no mercy. When my sister died I couldn’t believe how quickly she was gone. I went to see her for my spring break and she was dead by the end of it. We thought there would be more time. Even though you know the monster can take the one you love, you still hope there is more time. When all is done, life fades fast! Elizabeth showed a lot of courage and managed to embrace her life not her death. She was a champion in my book!

        • dakinikat says:

          I fought cancer with a newborn. It’s a mean, mean, mean opponent.

          • Woman Voter says:

            Yup, it is…glad you pulled through and busy touching so many lives. 🙂

          • Karma says:

            My mother fought the same fight with a two year old. Not quite the same but still a young child.

            When anyone wins the battle it gives genuine hope that there is progress being made. Truly, it is nice to hear that someone won.

          • dakinikat says:

            When then found my cancer, it was every where but the bones. It was a real fight but I wanted to hang on as much as possible so that my children would reach a point where they knew me. That was my goal because I was inoperable and the cancer was not known to be curable at all. When the chemo got it, it was a surprise to every one. It took me years to be able to think that long term was more than next week. Now, I have a daughter who is a doctor based on the experience. She said she wanted to cure cancer and she’s doing rotations right now in the same gynecological oncology department that treated me. Karmic indeed!

          • Sima says:

            I have to say, if anyone is motivated to find a cure for cancer (or even a cancer) your daughter is it. What an experience.

            And how grateful I am that the chemo worked and you are still here to educate and delight us all.

            I was having a grave conversation with my mother tonight. She’s had bad news from the doctor. Not terminal, but unceasing pain that will only get worse with no real help in sight. And she said, ‘I’m not ready to go. I’m going to be 70 next year and I’m not going’.

            I said, ‘Yay! Go to the 90s! We can have wheelchair races when I’m in my 70’s. Dad and (partner) can referee!’

            And she responded, ‘Damn straight’.

            And that’s the spirit. Look forward to those wheelchair races with your daughters!

          • Karma says:

            Wow…without words. That truly is karmic indeed…on a bunch of levels! The daughter you fought to live for is now fighting for the lives of others in the very same dept. And to have begun the fight at such an advanced stage is amazing.

            Ok…you got me all teary again…it really is nice to hear these wins.

            My hubby’s cousin recently went through breast cancer and chemo. And was finally able to get the reconstruction done. So this summer when they came out to visit and she was excited to show us her new ‘girl’. Which looked amazing and was constructed to look exactly like the other one. Obviously, I couldn’t have been more happy for her but just seeing the other side of breast cancer was a bit healing as well. Who knew a breast could have such an effect on me…lol?

            Truly, the wins matter for those of us who lost loved ones. Keep sharing your story…it is very inspirational.

          • dakinikat says:

            The youngest daughter was the newborn. The oldest daughter is the doctor. She was about 6 when I went through it all. I was also plancenta previa with youngest daughter. All-in-all I had two years of being a professional patient.

          • zaladonis says:

            I had no idea.

            I’m so glad you’re okay.

          • dakinikat says:

            Cancer is the great teacher. I’m fine now, but it really is odd that I lived. I’m glad I’ve seen my daughters grow to be women. That’s all I really wanted during that period. Your priorities change radically.

          • zaladonis says:

            That’s what Elizabeth Edwards said, she wanted to live long enough for her young children to be grown up. I love the way she said it, that she wanted them to remember her not only as that person who played Legos wih them but as someone who knew them and had a relationship with them as they became their grown-up selves.

            Changes everything.

          • Karma says:

            Wow…just one life and death fight after another.

            I had a friend who finally had to have a cerclage after losing her babies well into her pregnancies. It sounds like she was dealing with the same issue as you and your newborn. She was practically in bed after the third month so as not to hurt herself or the baby. The surgery helps but it was no guarantee. They finally adopted before fate gave them another chance.

            That is amazing luck on both counts with you and your newborn. And your oldest fighting the good fight, your family clearly was destined for great things.

          • Minkoff Minx says:

            Wow that is amazing Dak, and now that your daughter is doing her rotation at the same place that treated you…that is a wonderful story.

  6. Minkoff Minx says:

    So sad, I think about her children, and family. It is a horrible thing to lose such a super woman…

  7. Karma says:

    She was an impressive woman who could have run for the Senate and the top job herself.

    Frankly, I wish she would have taken that course rather than her hubby. She always seemed more sincere but without a doubt was an amazing political wife. Which I know sounds like an insult when you consider all of her personal achievements but that is how most of us were first introduced to her. There aren’t too many political wives that could give a stump speech or an interview and be such a great substitute for the actual candidate on substantial policy issues. I looked forward to hearing what she had to say in longer format interviews. Hillary Clinton was definitely one of those political wives….but who else is besides Elizabeth Edwards? She was without a doubt a huge asset to her husband’s career.

    Very sad…she really gave her all to her family. My thoughts go out to them….and a few tears.

  8. Thursday's Child says:

    Oh, how sad. Her death has come even faster than expected. I guess Elizabeth was tired.

    RIP Elizabeth Edwards.

  9. bostonboomer says:

    I’m shocked that it happened so quickly. This is a real loss.

    • Woman Voter says:

      I really thought she was going to have at least two more years, she will be so missed by so many and the ripple affect of her good works for those less fortunate will spread to touch humanity.

      RIP (((Sending good thoughts to your children and family)))

  10. Seriously says:

    Poor woman. I hope that she had a lot of happiness in her life in spite of all the tragedies she had to endure.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I think she did. In my experience, going through problems and dealing with them leads to more happiness, not less, if a person can achieve acceptance. I think Elizabeth did have that.

      • Silent Kate says:

        I think Elizabeth embraced life. She sure wasn’t one to whine about her circumstance. She didn’t seem to be a “pity party of one” type of person. I think she really lived for her kids. You really have to feel for those two young ones as they have lived for years with a sick mom.

      • zaladonis says:

        I think she did. In my experience, going through problems and dealing with them leads to more happiness, not less, if a person can achieve acceptance. I think Elizabeth did have that.

        Nicely said.

        • dakinikat says:

          Also, your perception of time really changes. I literally couldn’t think out very far. People would ask me what I had planned for next month and it became nearly an inconceivable ideation for me. I literally lived in the moment and had a heightened perception of now.

          • zaladonis says:



          • dakinikat says:

            Yes, I had inoperable stage four cancer. It was a weird one. Leiomyosarcoma of the cervix. Not known to be curable.

          • soupcity says:

            So glad you beat it, dak. Your children kept you going and I think that’s what kept Elizabeth around as long as she was. I really wasn’t shocked at the quickness, I think she was ready and let go. I was in the room when my mom in law died here at home with us. I pretty much made my husband go in there and say goodbye and tell her it was ok and not to worry (he so did not want to do it). Shortly after that she passed peacefully. It is an experience I have learned so much from and will treasure. In a lot of ways, it is like birth. I think those kids will be ok in time, I am sure she prepared them as well as she could. RIP.

          • Thursday's Child says:

            Dak, you must be in the medical literature.
            Did you do any meditating or other Buddhist practices for your health at that time?
            In a way, I identify with your children because my mother very nearly died at my birth, being saved only by a treatment that was experimental at the time, and I have been so grateful that I had her growing up

          • dakinikat says:

            I did lots of visualization meditation.

          • Thursday's Child says:

            OK, that didn’t come out right. Meditating would be more for state of mind than for health.

  11. NW Luna says:

    So sad about Elizabeth Edwards. She was brilliant and had her heart in the right place. I used to dream about a Clinton/Edwards run ….. Hillary & Elizabeth.

    She will continue to inspire.