Elizabeth Edwards, estranged wife of Senator John Edwards, has died after a long and courageous battle against cancer. She was 61.
The family released this statement: "Elizabeth Anania Edwards, mother, author, advocate died today at her home in Chapel Hill, surrounded by her family. Today we have lost the comfort of Elizabeth's presence but she remains the heart of this family. We love her and will never know anyone more inspiring or full of life. On behalf of Elizabeth we want to express our gratitude to the thousands of kindred spirits who moved and inspired her along the way. Your support and prayers touched our entire family."
Edwards died at her Chapel Hill home, where family and friends, including her estranged husband John, had gathered in recent days after doctors informed her that her cancer had spread and recommended she not undergo further treatment.
Elizabeth Edwards revealed in 2003 that she had breast cancer. She underwent treatment and continued working within the Democratic Party and for her then husband's One America Committee. In 2007, during John's ill-fated campaign for the Democratic nomination, she announced that her cancer had returned.
In January 2010, John Edwards admitted that he fathered a child with his mistress, after which Elizabeth filed for legal separation with intention to divorce, requiring a one-year mandatory waiting period in North Carolina. They were still legally married at the time of her death.
Edwards is survived by her estranged husband, daughters Cate, 28, and Emma, 12, and son Jack, 10. Her son Wade died in a car accident in 1996 at age 17.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wade Edwards Foundation, which benefits the Wade Edwards Learning Lab at wade.org.
UPDATE: Vice President Joe Biden released the following statement: "Elizabeth Edwards fought a brave battle against a terrible, ravaging disease that takes too many lives every day. She was an inspiration to all who knew her, and to those who felt they knew her. Jill and I extend our deepest sympathies to the Edwards family as they grieve during this difficult and painful time."
Here is an interview "Extra's" Lauren Sanchez did with the indomitable Elizabeth at the Stand Up to Cancer event in September.