By Aaron Blake - 03/22/07 06:55 PM EDT
Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer hours after her husband lost the 2004 election as his party’s vice presidential nominee. After she cracked a rib recently, tests revealed her cancer has returned and spread to her bones, meaning it can’t be cured, the couple announced yesterday in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Despite reports and speculation that they would suspend campaign activities due to her condition, the Edwardses donned wide smiles and assured the country they would go on as before with only minor, necessary changes.
Edwards is running third in the Democratic primary field right now, behind Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.), but leads in some polls in crucial early states Iowa and South Carolina.
“The campaign goes on; the campaign goes on strongly,” he said. “We’ve been confronted with these kinds of traumas and struggles already in our lives. And we know from our previous experience that, when this happens, you have a choice: You can go cower in the corner and hide, or you can be tough and go out there and stand up for what you believe in.”
Elizabeth Edwards said that she will step back from the campaign when she needs to restore her energy, but that it was important to her that her husband continue as before.
She said she currently has no symptoms and felt it was important that they hold a press conference to demonstrate that.
“I’m absolutely ready for this,” she said. “Honestly, I have all the energy. … It’s unbelievably important that we get this election right.”
She saw a doctor because she was experiencing pain in her left side. From there doctors were able to find that the cancer had returned and was now in her bones.
The couple assured that while the cancer is incurable, it is treatable, and people can live with it for years.
Elizabeth Edwards said she was lifting a box when she hurt her back, and she later heard a pop when she and her husband were hugging.
In a lighthearted moment, he cut her off and pretended to strike her.
“Actually, I was beating her,” he joked.
He said he and his wife would be leaving immediately from the press conference to travel to New York and Boston and then to California today to resume the campaign.
Fellow presidential candidates from both parties said their thoughts and prayers are with the Edwardses.