Sunday 24 September 2017

Edwards' estranged wife dies after cancer battle

John Edwards and wife his Elizabeth address the media in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, during Mr Edwards' presidential campaign in 2007. The photograph was taken after a news conference addressing Elizabeth's battle with cancer
John Edwards and wife his Elizabeth address the media in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, during Mr Edwards' presidential campaign in 2007. The photograph was taken after a news conference addressing Elizabeth's battle with cancer

Nedra Pickler in Washington

Elizabeth Edwards, a best-selling author and the estranged wife of former Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards, who endured revelations about her husband's infidelity, died yesterday aged 61.

Ms Edwards died of cancer at her home early yesterday.

She was first diagnosed with breast cancer and treated in 2004. In 2007, the cancer returned and spread to other parts of her body.

She wrote two best-selling books, 'Resilience' and 'Saving Graces', about her long battle with cancer and the scandal surrounding her husband, a wealthy trial lawyer who served as a US senator from North Carolina and twice ran for president.

Ms Edwards won the hearts of America for being stoic and dignified as her husband's presidential ambitions collapsed.

Her marriage crumbled very publicly and cancer sapped her strength. She thanked her supporters online via Facebook on Monday as word spread the disease could take her life within weeks.

Treatment

The Edwards family issued a statement that said doctors had told Ms Edwards further treatment for her cancer would be unproductive.

The John Kerry-John Edwards ticket lost to the then incumbent president George W Bush. John Edwards launched a second bid for the White House in 2007.

The Edwards decided to continue the campaign after doctors told Elizabeth that her cancer had spread, but he lost the nomination to Barack Obama.

"It isn't possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel towards everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know," Ms Edwards, a popular figure among Democratic activists, wrote on the Facebook post.

Ms Edwards' estranged husband, former presidential candidate John Edwards, and their three children were at her side at their home, according to a family friend.

Her sister, brother, nieces, nephews, former campaign advisers and other friends were also there. The friend said Elizabeth Edwards was not in pain and was in good spirits despite the seriousness of her condition over the last few days.

Ms Edwards separated from her husband after he admitted to an extramarital affair and fathering a child with a campaign videographer. She had battled breast cancer since 2004, diagnosed in the final days of the campaign when her husband was the Democratic vice presidential nominee.

Ms Edwards was more than a political spouse. She was chief adviser and strategist to her husband's campaigns for the Senate and later for the presidency. After retreating from public life as their marriage crumbled, she emerged to advocate for changes in the country's health care system while grappling with her own disease.

She focused on moving the country's system of providing health care toward a single-payer process to serve all.

Captivated by stories of those who could not afford health care coverage, Ms Edwards passionately retold them at round-table discussions, in writings on the Web and in Washington.

"What I'm really glad about is that I still have a seat at the table to talk about health care -- that I have the strength to do it and that I also have a seat at the table," she said at an event in October 2008.

The Edwardses met in law school. Daughter Cate has followed her parents into a career in law while son Wade was killed in a traffic accident when he was 16. Elizabeth Edwards had two more children later, giving birth to Emma Claire at age 48 and Jack at 50.

Irish Independent

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