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Published:March 30th, 2007 13:27 EST
John & Elizabeth Edwards: Still going the distance

John & Elizabeth Edwards: Still going the distance

By Garrett Godwin

It would be thirty years ago this summer that John and Elizabeth Edwards held their wedding reception in the courtyard of a hotel in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  However, it was at that same spot last Thursday afternoon that the couple held a press conference, announcing that Elizabeth once again has cancer, which is stage four breast cancer and malignant.

The cancer that was found in 2004 has resurfaced, and now was found in Elizabeth's ribs.  It was discovered after the 57-year-old mother of three endured pain from a back injury while moving boxes.  Her doctors said that the cancer is spreading through her ribs and now her lungs and she will probably have to receive hormonal treatment.  In the press conference, Elizabeth states that the cancer is incurable yet treatable.  Her primary physician, Dr. Lisa Carey, said that the campaign won't interfere with Elizabeth's treatment.  Carey also gave an analogy that is stated by Elizabeth's husband, John, in the press conference: "It's like a patient having diabetes.  The diabetes never goes away and the disease never goes away.  But you treat it with insulin and you take your medicine.  That's exactly what we intend to do."

A Democratic Vice President nominee of 2004, Edwards, 53, calls his wife's reoccurring cancer "a test of his presidential mettle".  But the former U.S. Senator of North Carolina won't let this stop him from going all the way to the White House and becoming nominated as well as elected for President in 2008 because, according to him, there is no reason to.  "The campaign goes on" he states.  "The campaign goes on strongly."  Elizabeth also wants her husband to keep going with the campaign because "it's unbelievably important we get this election right", she said.

Married for almost thirty years, the couple has three children: older daughter Cade, 24, who's in college; Emma Claire, 8, and Jack, 6, who Elizabeth states that they "have the same hopeful attitude" that she and her husband have.

During the press conference, she also said that the children already know about the cancer.  "They're fairly disappointed", she continues, "It doesn't look like I'll lose my hair in the next round of medicine."

Their first child, Wade, was killed in a car accident in 1996; he was sixteen.  But the Edwards family had the strength to go on.  "We've been confronted with these kinds of traumas and struggles in our life" states John.  "When this happens, you have a choice -- you can go and cower in the corner or you can go out there and be tough.  [But] if you are not able to deal with this kind of pressure ... you are not ready to be president."

Despite her cancer, Elizabeth is still looking on the bright side of things.  "We'll always go to look for the silver lining -- it's who we are as people" she said.  "These things hit him [John] like they hit everybody, but he has an unbelievable toughness, a reserve, that allows him to push forward.  All the toughness that was required of me, he exhibited for me.  He found out what needed to be done.  He's unbelievably tough."

But right now, the primary focus of Elizabeth Edwards is to take care of her children and help her husband with his campaign.  Still, she also has another primary focus.  "Keep a positive attitude that we've [my family and myself] had before" Elizabeth responds.  The second is continuing to live her life everyday.  "I expect to do next week all the things I did last week" she continues.  "I don't expect my life to be significantly indifferent."

Though he and Elizabeth have a campaign to run, what matters right now to John Edwards is being close to his wife.  "Anytime, anyplace", he states, "that I need to be with Elizabeth, I'll be there.  If she's not with me, I'll be there."  But most of all, John Edwards is willing to stand by Elizabeth in this difficult time.  "We are very optimistic about this" he continues.  "We know the key is to keep your head up and keep moving.  Many patients in similar circumstances have lived many years undergoing treatment.  We will be in this every step of the way."