Elizabeth Edwards dies after lengthy breast cancer battle

Elizabeth Edwards. Photo Source: MGN
Elizabeth Edwards. Photo Source: MGN

CHAPEL HILL, NC (RNN) - Elizabeth Edwards, author and the estranged wife of former senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards, has died after a battle with breast cancer.

A statement from the family obtained by CNN says Edwards, 61, died Tuesday surrounded by 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," the statement said. "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."

Following the news of her passing, friends and supporters began sending messages through social media sites and as formal statements.

"Elizabeth Edwards fought a brave battle against a terrible, ravaging disease that takes too many lives every day," Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement released by the White House. "She was an inspiration to all who knew her, and to those who felt they knew her."

Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, said in a statement, "She was a passionate advocate for issues she believed in and a caring and loving mother. Her legacy should serve as an inspiration to all of us. Her life was not without tragedy and adversity, yet through it all she fought for her family and faced every challenge with courage, poise, and grace."

Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. After extensive treatment, the cancer went into remission, but resurfaced in 2007. On Monday, the family released a statement saying that Edwards had been advised by her doctors that further treatments of her cancer would be unproductive.

The family released the following statement, obtained by the National Journal, on behalf of Edwards on Monday.

"You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces - my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful. It isn't possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel to everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know."

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