Elizabeth Edwards, estranged wife of politician John Edwards, has stopped her cancer treatment and begun the process of saying goodbye to her family and friends, according to a statement by the Edwards family.
"Elizabeth has been advised by her doctors that further treatment of her cancer would be unproductive," the Edwards family said in a statement on Monday. "She is resting at home with family and friends and has posted this message to friends on her Facebook page."
According to the AP, that family includes her husband, the former senator and presidential candidate whose infidelity and illegitimate child with a campaign staffer was revealed in 2009. She and Edwards separated in January of this year (North Carolina law dictates that divorce can occur only after a yearlong separation). Their three children—Cate, 28; Emma Claire, 12; and Jack, 10—as well as several other relatives and friends, are at her bedside.
Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, and the disease later spread throughout her body. In 2007 she spoke to NEWSWEEK's Jonathan Alter about the realities of her diagnosis. "When I was first diagnosed, I was going to beat this. I was going to be the champion of cancer. And I don't have that feeling now. The cancer will eventually kill me. It's going to win this fight," she said.
In 2008, Edwards wrote a remembrance of Tony Snow, the journalist and former White House press secretary who died of colon cancer. The article, published in NEWSWEEK, discussed her fear and sadness about her diagnosis, as well as the similarities between the two. "We each chose to reach for something larger than the life and body with which we were saddled when we kept our course after the last diagnoses. We did it because we thought it was important and because (although it is chic to say that one detests politics) we actually loved the give and take [of] it, the struggle to find what you think is right and the imperative to make others understand and agree."
Now that treatment has stopped, Edwards will have days or weeks to say her goodbyes and spend time with her family. In her Facebook statement, Edwards says, "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."
Below, the full text of her Facebook statement:
You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces—my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. 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. But 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. It isn’t possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel to everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know.
December 6, 2010
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The video above is from a 2006 interview with NEWSWEEK in which Edwards discusses her diagnosis and treatment.