Elizabeth Edwards: A Survivor Even In Death
After years of being dragged through the sordid details of her husband’s betrayal, in death she had the dignity she must have wished for in life.
No matter how you felt about Elizabeth Edwards' decisions, questioned by many, her final public words, resigned but not bitter, expressed the truth of the person she had become:
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.
One of the most important lessons I learned by having cancer myself is to be a survivor, not a victim. This is a lesson Elizabeth learned---and taught---by never asking the public to feel sorry for her. The fact that her death came so soon after the statement on her condition proved that she managed to maintain that attitude, and also elude the celebrity death watch that has dogged so many celebrities who die of cancer.
As a survivor, I die a little bit inside every time another woman loses the battle against breast cancer, always the same thought: “It could have been me.” Though I know well that cancer is capricious, not only cruel.
I also know the depth of loss for her children; the pain of growing up without a mother who provides the love and link to who you are.
As outsiders, we're all helpless to do anything but care and watch, whether it’s Elizabeth or someone we know personally valiantly fighting the disease that robs so many so early. In the end it's a private and lonely battle.
What can we take away from this sad news? Undoubtedly Elizabeth had the best that modern conventional medicine could provide. Unfortunately, her death proves yet again that modern medicine can’t provide what cancer patients most need---treatment that works.
My hope is that her death will stimulate more conversation about seeking potential cures anywhere and everywhere; and lead to more scientific investigation of options outside the traditional cancer paradigm.
For Elizabeth –and for her children---it’s too late.
And I only hope John Edwards will rise to the occasion with a fraction of the dignity Elizabeth had, and prove that the faith she once had in him was justified.