The day Elizabeth Edwards announced that she had breast cancer, my heart sank. Finding a lump in the breast only heightens the suspicion that the prognosis may not be good. In Elizabeth’s case, it wasn’t. We all admired Elizabeth for different reasons. In my case, it was her love for healthcare reform that quickly grabbed my attention and we were both older moms of two small children. Elizabeth advocated universal healthcare and comprehensive insurance for all Americans, not a “compromised” version based on partisanship and politics. As the years wore on, she discussed her diagnosis of incurable breast cancer with passion stating that she knew that she had access to the best possible care but empathized with women who were not as fortunate.
It is said that behind every successful man lies the power behind the throne and we know this to be true about Elizabeth. She was an accomplished attorney in her own right who took a back seat to raise her kids and support the presidential candidacy of her husband. For a while I thought Elizabeth had won the battle against breast cancer during its remission but then it resurfaced its ugly head in the midst of her husband’s presidential campaign. She handled it with both dignity and grace. We collectively winced when she faced the infamous scandal that violated principal and moral authority and embraced her even more. The last years of her life were a celebration of uncertainty as she became more and more vocal about healthcare reform. As recent as last night, members of our healthcare advocacy group, Doctors For America, discussed sending Elizabeth a letter of gratitude for all of her efforts regarding healthcare reform. Alas, we were too late. She made her transition this morning.
Elizabeth might have lost the battle with cancer, but she certainly mastered the art of living. In her own words she explained “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.”
We’re grateful, too, Elizabeth. Very grateful.