- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 4, 2004


Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards, was diagnosed with breast cancer the day her husband and Sen. John Kerry conceded the presidential race.

Spokesman David Ginsberg said Mrs. Edwards, 55, discovered a lump in her right breast while on a campaign trip last week. Her family doctor told her Oct. 29 that it appeared to be cancerous and advised her to see a specialist.

She put off the appointment until Wednesday so as not to miss campaigning time. The Edwards family went straight to Massachusetts General Hospital from Boston’s Faneuil Hall after Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards conceded on Wednesday.

Mrs. Edwards had a needle biopsy performed at the hospital, where Dr. Barbara Smith confirmed the cancer, Mr. Ginsberg said.

He said the cancer was diagnosed as invasive ductal cancer. That is the most common type of breast cancer, and can spread from the milk ducts to other parts of the breast or beyond.

More tests were being done to determine how far the cancer has advanced and how to treat it, he said.

Mr. Ginsberg said spirits are high at the Edwards household. “Everybody feels good about it, that this is beatable,” he said.

Mr. Edwards, who leaves his North Carolina Senate seat in January, said, “Elizabeth is as strong a person as I’ve ever known. Together, our family will beat this.”

The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 216,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

Treatments have been getting better. The current five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 87 percent, up from 78 percent in the mid-1980s. About 40,000 women die of breast cancer annually.

Overall, the society says about one in seven women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

Invasive ductal cancer accounts for 65 percent to 80 percent of all breast cancers, according to the Merck Manual of Medical Information.

Treatment usually begins with surgery, according to the National Cancer Institute. This could involve removal of the cancer itself and usually nearby lymph nodes. Lumpectomy, just removing the cancerous mass, is becoming more common, though sometimes the whole breast is removed.

Surgery can be followed by chemotherapy, radiation or hormone therapy.

The Edwardses married in 1977. They have two daughters, Cate and Emma Claire and a son, Jack. Son Wade died in a 1996 traffic accident.

Mrs. Edwards, born in Jacksonville, Fla., grew up hopscotching between the United States and Japan. She met her future husband at the University of North Carolina’s law school.

She juggled a successful legal career and family for 19 years. Then — stunned by Wade’s death — she quit work to have more children at an age when many contemporaries were easing toward grandmotherhood.

On the campaign, she dubbed herself the “anti-Barbie,” a quick-witted, down-to-earth political wife who connected particularly well with mothers and fathers.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide