I’ve been thinking all day about Elizabeth Edwards. She’s the wife of former Senator John Edwards, a candidate for president of the United States. At the end of his last election run — as John Kerry’s vice presidential candidate in 2004 — Elizabeth was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent aggressive treatment, and thought she beat it.
But, earlier this week, the bad news came again: the cancer had returned, this time in bone. “Not curable, but treatable” seems to be the prognosis.
But Elizabeth Edwards’ indomitable spirit will be the best medicine. She and her husband declared that they will continue the campaign. Some pundits wrongly reported that John would drop out — but they obviously did not know the determination of this couple who have faced tragedy before in the death of their son and the first bad diagnosis two years ago.
In this month when we observe Women’s History, Elizabeth Edwards writes a new chapter. Regardless of how anyone might feel about John’s political positions, Elizabeth’s story is compelling. Even before her first breast cancer diagnosis, she was a political spouse who broke the mold — a lawyer unafraid to speak her mind, a pragmatic partner who does not seem overly preoccupied with fashion or bottled beauty. She is focused on real life, and her real life is a story that millions of women can relate to.
Persisting in the face of bad news, remaining optimistic despite great personal tragedy — Elizabeth Edwards transcends mundane political concerns to teach powerful lessons about hope and courage. Her “amazing grace” is an inspiration for all women coping with illness and loss.