"I Don't Sit at Home and Worry
About What's Going to Happen to Me"
When I interviewed Elizabeth Edwards last month for the profile running in today's paper, we talked mostly about her role in her husband's campaign. But we closed on the topic that is inescapable in any conversation with her -- the state of her health.
I noted that she seemed to have considerable energy, despite her diagnosis of incurable cancer last March. "I'm asymptomatic... which means I don't have anything going on that bothers me or is holding me back," she said.
Edwards said her doctor recently offered to give her an excuse to cut back on her campaigning. "I said no, I'm fine." But she admitted she does not want to push herself beyond the point that she would put herself more at risk to the disease.
"I feel good and honestly, the campaign is more helpful. I don't sit at home and worry about what's going to happen to me a year from now, two years from now, 10 years from now. I take a pill in the morning and that's when I think about cancer. No other time of the day do I think about my cancer."
Edwards and her husband got come criticism in March when the decided to press ahead with his campaign, despite the new diagnosis. "I don't worry about that at all," she said. "Because honestly, I didn't hear any criticism from anybody who's been through it. I think people who haven't been through it were critical. I just hope they never have a chance to learn the choices they would make. I'm pretty confident they would choose, as we have, to do things. I can't imagine better medicine for me than to be out doing something."
Jennifer Palmieri, the Democratic strategist who worked in the first Edwards campaign and is a close friend of Elizabeth Edwards, tells the story of those first few days after the latest diagnosis.
Edwards was flying home after delivering a speech in Cleveland five days after the diagnosis. She had been through a lot in those days -- the emotional press conference with her husband, a whirlwind of travel to fundraisers and a candidate forum and press interviews along the way.
Edwards had held up well through all of it but now she was weary, worn down by the repeated press questions about her illness. She turned to Palmieri, who was sharing the flight back home. "I'm tired of people telling me all day that I'm going to die," she said.
That is part of the reality of her life these days -- cancer patient, wife and mother and enthusiastic advocate for her husband, all under the glare of cameras, reporters and the public.
-- Dan Balz
July 30, 2007; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: A_Blog , Dan Balz's Take , John Edwards
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