Elizabeth Edwards Dies At 61

Wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards and best-selling author loses six-year battle with cancer.

Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards, died at her home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, after a six-year fight with cancer, according to multiple reports.

A best-selling author and a driving force behind her husband's political career, Mrs. Edwards discovered she had breast cancer on Election Day in 2004, when Senator John Kerry and Mr. Edwards, his running mate, lost to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. She underwent extensive radiation and chemotherapy, sending her cancer into temporary remission, an ordeal she detailed in her 2006 memoir, "Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers."

Using his wife's cancer as a driving force (the disease returned in 2007), heath care reform became a central platform for Mr. Edwards' second presidential bid. But shortly after his defeat in the Democratic primaries, Mr. Edwards admitted that he had carried on an extramarital affair with a campaign worker, though he insisted the relationship took place during his wife's remission.

"Although John believes he should stand alone and take the consequences of his action now, when the door closes behind him, he has his family waiting for him," Mrs. Edwards said in a statement at the time.

She'd go on to address the affair in a second memoir, "Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities." Mr. Edwards would later admit he fathered a child with the campaign worker, Rielle Hunter, and Mr. and Mrs. Edwards became legally separated in January.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina Law School, Mrs. Edwards practiced law for many years and raised two children with her husband. In 1996, her 16-year-old son was killed in a car accident, a tragedy that spurred Mr. Edwards' decision to run for the Senate in 1998.

When Mrs. Edwards' cancer returned in 2007, it was said to be malignant, to have spread to her bones, lungs and lymph nodes, and to be treatable but not curable. Just days ago, the Edwards family announced that the cancer had spread to her liver and that she had stopped all treatment. She was released from the hospital and returned home, where her family, including her husband, was said to be by her side.

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