Edwards had prepared family, home for her death

Associatedpress and Associatedpress

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A son dying young. A six-year battle with cancer. A humiliating betrayal.

Americans knew Elizabeth Edwards in large part through her tragedies, but more importantly, they knew her for the vitality and determination she showed in dealing with them. Her cancer incurable and her former-presidential-candidate husband mired in a paternity scandal, she did not shrink from public life but shared her story and advocated for health care reform.

“We can look at that face of courage and realize we can have that, too,” said Darlene Gardner, 62, who runs a cancer support group and founded a store in Cary that provides wigs and other items for those with the disease. “It shows you that, in spite of everything that’s going on, you can come through anything.”

Edwards died of cancer Tuesday at her North Carolina home surrounded by her three children, siblings, friends and her estranged husband, John. She was 61. She and her family had announced Monday that doctors told her further treatment would do no good.

“In her life, Elizabeth Edwards knew tragedy and pain,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “Many others would have turned inward; many others in the face of such adversity would have given up.