RIP Elizabeth Edwards

That is the simple, elegant status update that a college friend uses to mark the passing of the ex-wife of former Senator, presidential candidate and philanderer John Edwards.

I will not belabor her passing too much. I’m sure the blogosphere is full of both elegies and criticisms of Elizabeth Edwards. I don’t know if she was the main intellect behind John Edwards’ rise, if she was bitchy, controlling and power hungry as she has been portrayed by some, or if she was the serene, strong, inspirational breast cancer patient that many admire. I would guess, but don’t know, that she was a bit of all of those things.

For me, though, her death this week from breast cancer, in her North Carolina manse, surrounded by her family (including John Edwards!) is a scary reminder that there are no guarantees with this disease. Elizabeth Edwards’ tumor started out the size of a half dollar. Eventually it filled her whole body.

You can do your best, you can get the best care. The cancer can still come back. Most of the time, we try not to think about that. In this, we are like everybody. As my 91-year-old father-in-law likes to say, “No one gets out of this life alive.” But the end of Elizabeth Edwards’ life makes that joke more than a joke. It makes it real.

About leftbreast

I have had breast cancer. I was diagnosed at 47, and am now 49. I have finished "active treatment," two surgeries, chemo, radiation, monoclonal antibodies. These days, I only take a drug to suppress my uptake of estrogen, since my tumor was highly reactive to that hormone. I have been married to my husband Pete for 21 years. I have a stepdaughter, Maureen, 30, and a daughter, Erin, 10. I've been a freelance magazine journalist for 20-plus years, covering everything from Chinese foreign policy to Catholic nuns to endangered species. I have had a great life. I have lived in Asia and all over the United States. I have spent nights with tree-sitters in Oregon and with astronomers at the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii. I've been to a cocktail party on the poopdeck of a British destroyer docked in Shanghai. I've taken the bus to Tibet, and tramped through the cloud forests of Panama with biologists. A magazine sent me on a raft trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon; another sent me to cooking school for a week. I have spent time with celebrities, presidents and heroin dealers. I love my work. I have a loving, supportive family and more friends than I probably deserve. I have had the space and time to camp, ski, cycle, garden, cook and spoil my pets (an Australian shepherd, a German shepherd and a tabby cat). If it all ended tomorrow, I would have to say that it has been a really, really good ride. When I was in thick of treatment, I was simply fighting for more time. Now, I'm trying to connect the experience of cancer with the rest of my life, with the time that's been won. I hope the cancer never comes back, but if it does, I'll be ready. That's what this blog is about.
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1 Response to RIP Elizabeth Edwards

  1. Catherine says:

    Scary, indeed. I read somewhere that she wanted just eight more years–to see her youngest graduate from high school. I just can’t think about that when it comes to my own dear daughter. I just want to stick my head in the sand and believe I will be here.

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