Elizabeth Edwards dies at 61

“Today we have lost the comfort of Elizabeth’s presence but she remains the heart of this family,” the Edwards family says in a statement. “We love her and will never know anyone more inspiring or full of life.”

“On behalf of Elizabeth we want to express our gratitude to the thousands of kindred spirits who moved and inspired her along the way,” the statement adds. “Your support and prayers touched our entire family.”

On Dec. 6, 2010, it was announced that her doctors decided that further treatment for her breast cancer would be unproductive and that she only had a short time left to live.

Since 2004, Elizabeth had struggled, day after day, against her breast cancer. After she became the icon of the battle against this disease, she spent the last days of her life fighting against cancer and urging Americans to always care for the sick, no matter their social status.

In a message posted on her Facebook page, Elizabeth Edwards spoke publicly for the last time. “The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And yes, there are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human,” she explained. “I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.”

For the American public, Elizabeth was also a woman betrayed by the man she has always loved, politician John Edwards, a former candidate for the vice presidency in 2004. John and Elizabeth had met while they studying at the University of North Carolina. They married in 1977, had three children, ages 28 to 10 years: Cate, Emma Claire and Jack, and a family drama, too, with the death of the eldest son, Wade, in 1996. Despite her illness and heavy treatments that followed, John Edwards never abandoned his dream of becoming president of the United States, but he finally had to admit his failure in January 2008.

However, the scandal of a double sentimental life finally caught on him. In August 2008 he was forced to admit his relationship with the woman filming his campaign, a filmmaker who was 42 years old at the time, Rielle Hunter. Worse, in January of this year John Edwards confirmed he was indeed the father of a daughter, Quinn, born a few years ago.