Elizabeth Edwards’ long standing battle with cancer came to a tragic end on Tuesday 7th December, 2010. She died at her home in Chapel Hill, her family and friends at her bedside as she passed away.
Just a few days prior to her passing doctors had told Elizabeth that further treatment was pointless as the stage IV cancer which had spread into her bones, had metastized in her liver. At the relatively young age of 61 she left behind her three children, Cate, Jack and Emma Claire, as well as a lasting legacy in literary form from her time as a best selling author.
Her life followed varying career paths which began with her role as a law clerk for a Federal Judge, and in 1978 she moved up the ladder to become an associate at Harwell, Barr, Martin and Sloan. In 1981 she worked at the Office of the Attorney General and legal firm Merriman, Nicholls and Crampton, but a pivotal and tragic event would soon lead her to step away from her legal roles.
She was the wife of former presidential candidate, John Edwards, although their marriage ended after their son Wade was killed in a jeep crash, and John publicly admitted to fathering a child with another woman. The ensuing divorce required a compulsory one year separation.
The loss of Wade led Elizabeth to form the “Wade Edwards Foundation” which was aimed at high school children who required aid in learning.
The death of her son changed so much in her life and was an awful loss to cope with, but her resilience really began to shine when she was diagnosed with cancer. The illness never deterred her from living a full life and, if anything, it motivated her to reach even greater heights.
Her first book, “Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers,” focused on the death of her son and her battle with cancer, while her second book, “Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life’s Adversities,” followed in May 2009, and looked in more depth at the difficulties she faced throughout her life, the loss of her father and son and the state of US health care.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2004 and the subsequent fight against the disease remained public. She became an activist for women’s health care and all sufferers of cancer. On March 22nd, 2007 she announced that her cancer had developed to stage IV and on December 6th, 2010 doctors ended all treatment.
Although her life endured so much difficulty and in tragic circumstances, she will be remembered as a brave and courageous woman who inspired millions with her strength in the face of great adversity.