Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards, died Tuesday after a six-year battle with breast cancer. She was 61.
The New York Times reports she died at her home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
“Today we have lost the comfort of Elizabeth’s presence but she remains the heart of this family,” said a statement from Edwards’ family. “We love her and will never know anyone more inspiring or full of life.”
On Monday, Edwards posted what many saw as a “goodbye message” on Facebook. “The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that,” she wrote.
Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after her husband lost his bid for vice president in November 2004. John Edwards, a one-term Democratic senator, was Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s running mate.
It was later revealed that she knew before the election she might have cancer, but shielded her husband from the news during the campaign. She immediately underwent treatment, and the cancer was believed to be in remission.
In March 2007 — at the start her husband’s 2008 presidential campaign — Edwards learned that the cancer had returned and spread.
The Times notes that Edwards led a life of vivid ups and downs, playing a significant strategic role in her husband’s high-profile races for the White House.
“But their 16-year-old son was killed in a car crash, cancer struck her at age 55, the political dreams died and, within months, her husband admitted to having had an extramarital affair with a campaign videographer,” the Times reports.
Edwards’ husband “confessed to her … elements of the extramarital affair that would destroy his public career and whose concealment is still the subject of a federal grand jury investigation,” reports Politico.