No one would have denied Elizabeth and John Edwards a moment of self-pity. They have had their share of misfortunes, and life has slapped them hard again with the discovery last week that the breast cancer that afflicted her at the outset of his 2004 campaign had returned and metastasized.
The disease is treatable but not curable and the five-year survival rate for women with a similar diagnosis is not good.
Instead, they called a press conference to announce the recurrence of the cancer but that, at Elizabeth Edwards’ urging, her husband would continue his presidential candidacy and that in among her treatments she would campaign with him. She said, “I don’t look sickly,” which she decidedly did not, and “I don’t feel sickly.” And, before any of the reporters could summon the nerve to ask, she added that “it doesn’t look like I’ll lose my hair with the next round of medicine.”
Elizabeth Edwards, also a lawyer, received high marks in the last campaign for her unaffectedness. It was clear that the term “equal partner” was a fact of their marriage and not campaign boilerplate. She deserves further praise for the grace, good humor and resolve with which she has faced a terribly daunting setback.