Elizabeth Edwards, whose husband John Edwards fell from grace and public life after admitting an affair with a campaign worker, has died after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 61.
"Today we have lost the comfort of Elizabeth's presence but she remains the heart of this family," her family said in a statement Tuesday. "We love her and will never know anyone more inspiring or full of life.
Surrounded by family, the lawyer and estranged wife of the 2004 Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee passed away at 10:05 .m. EST in her home in North Carolina.
Tributes to Edwards came from all ends of the political spectrum. Saying he and the First Lady were saddened by her death, President Barack Obama called Edwards a "tenacious advocate" for health care reform and preventing poverty. "Very sorry for Elizabeth Edward's family,” said failed GOP 2008 VP nominee Sarah Palin on Twitter. “May God comfort her kids, especially, through this tough time. God bless her family & loved ones."
A successful lawyer, Edwards, who had four children with her husband, became a national figure after John Edwards ran for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2004. While John Edwards was unsuccessful in his bid, the first term North Carolina Senator still made the ticket when Senator John Kerry choose him as the party’s Vice-Presidential nominee. A popular figure on the hustle, Elizabeth Edwards announced one day after her husband and Kerry loss to incumbents George W. Bush and Dick Cheney that she had developed breast cancer.
Edwards aggressively treated the disease, later writing about it in her 2006 best seller “Saving Grace.” Despite the fact that the disease spread to other parts of her body in 2007, she accompanied her husband John on his second effort at the Presidency as he began running for the 2008 nomination in 2007. John Edwards withdrew from the race on Jan. 30, 2008 after coming up short in several primaries. The former senator still hoped to play a big role in an upcoming Democratic administration but that was derailed when his affair with Rielle Hunter became public.
Separated from his wife in 2009, John Edwards later admitted he fathered a child with Hunter. The former senator is the subject of acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's upcoming directorial debut "The Politician," based on Andrew Young's book of the same name.
Embracing a life beyond politics, Elizabeth Edwards wrote "Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities" in 2009 and opened a Chapel Hill furniture store called "The Red Window.”
Edwards posted the following statement on her Facebook page earlier this week after deciding to cease further treatment for her disease :
"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."