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Elizabeth Edwards pens inspiring memoir

America warmed to Elizabeth Edward and her affable, down-to-earth personality as she campaigned for her husband, John Edwards, for vice president. She inspired millions as she valiantly fought advanced breast cancer, which was diagnosed just days before the 2004 election. She shares the experiences, and the death of a 16-year-old son in 1996, in a new memoir. Here's an excerpt:

HOME, FROM A NEW ANGLE
This was meant to be a very different chapter. The beginning of our new lives, filled with pastures in which the dogs could chase deer before they reached the flower beds, packed with afternoons exploring the woods with the children, and filled with evenings together at our long kitchen table.
There would be stories of the next campaign, of course, and of the friends with whom we have reconnected here and across the country. That was what I had hoped to write. And then I broke my rib, and somewhere a snowball fell on an embankment and rolled and rolled until an avalanche took away the thoughts of any truly carefree days for me or for those who love me.
And so I write this chapter instead. You have to forgive me that, although so many have reached out to me and deserve to be here, this chapter is a tribute mostly to those closest to me: those with the most to lose from the most recent diagnosis that the breast cancer has spread to my bones and is now classified as incurable.

John and I sat in the car watching Jack’s baseball practice. John first sat in the bleachers, but when the sun set, a cold April night had replaced the warm April day, so now we sat together in the semi-warmth of the car facing the field and watching seven- and eight-year-olds practice punching their fists into their gloves and leaning forward onto the toes of their new cleats, their elbows resting on their knees, waiting for the next ground ball.

Coach Mitch, the model of the dedicated and serious parent-coach, was throwing the grounders, cheering them on when they handled one, reassuring them when it sped between their legs to the greening grass of the outfield. In one rotation, Jack was playing left field, or rather he was standing at the edge of left field, kicking up dirt and watching the wind carry it. I remembered him doing the same thing last year when Coach Mitch coached Emma Claire and Jack. Jack would be kicking dirt in left field and Emma Claire would be looking for four-leaf clovers in center. I would call out from the bleachers: Baseball. Just one word. Just a reminder about why we were there. I rolled down the window and did it again now for Jack. Baseball. Sometimes we all need reminders when we are distracted from the task in front of us.

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    John Edwards Named Kerry's Running Mate

    John Edwards' public life

    Former Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, has faced public and private challenges throughout his life and career.

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    Early family portrait -

    In an undated photograph, future Sen. John Edwards, bottom right, sits with his sister, Kathy Edwards, left, and parents Bobbie and Wallace. He was born on June 10, 1953, in Seneca, S.C.

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    Gridiron pose -

    In 1970, Edwards was a member of the North Moore High School Mustangs varsity football team during his senior year.

    Edwards Family via AP / Edwards Family via AP
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    I thee wed -

    Elizabeth and John Edwards on their wedding day July 30, 1977.

    Zuma via Corbis / Zuma via Corbis
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    A son's legacy -

    Edwards stands with his late son, Wade, on Mount Kilimanjaro in 1995. Less than a year after the Kilimanjaro trek, Wade was swept away with the high winds that pushed his Jeep off a highway in April 1996.

    Edwards Family via AP / Edwards Family via AP
  • Image: The Edwards family in the Oval Office.

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    Visiting the White House -

    Left to right, John Edwards, Cate Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Wade Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 13, 1996. Wade Edwards was invited to a reception honoring the American National Endowment for the Humanities National Essay Winners.

    Courtesy, Williiam J. Clinton Pr / Courtesy, Williiam J. Clinton Pr
  • pool, accident, trial, Lakey, family, John Edwards John Edwards Named Kerry's Running Mate

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    Order in the court -

    A successful trial attorney, on Sept. 5, 1997, Edwards, right, sits with clients Sandy and David Lakey as they await what turned out to be the largest personal injury verdict in North Carolina history, $25 million in compensatory damages for injuries suffered by their daughter in a swimming pool.

    ZUMA Press / ZUMA Press
  • ELECTION SENATE SENATOR GOVERNMENT POLITICS VOTE RACE VICTORY DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE TURNOVER

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    Political victory -

    Edwards, the Democratic Senate candidate, celebrates his victory with his six-month-old daughter, Emma Claire, on Nov. 3, 1998, at the North Raleigh Hilton in Raleigh, N.C. Edwards defeated GOP incumbent Lauch Faircloth, 51 percent to 47 percent.

    THE Charlotte Observer via KRT  / THE Charlotte Observer via KRT
  • This 03 February 1999 file photo shows US Senator

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    Presidential impeachment -

    On Feb. 3, 1999, Edwards is surrounded, from the left, by fellow senators, Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, Arlen Specter, R-Pa., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., as they meet reporters to discuss the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES HIS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.

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    Hat in the ring -

    On Sept. 16, 2003, Edwards, along with his family, from left, daughter Catherine, son Jack, daughter Emma Claire and his wife Elizabeth, wave to supporters at the old Milliken Mill in Robbins, N.C., where he officially announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • SENATOR EDWARDS SMILES WHILE SIGNING HIS BOOK IN NEW HAMPSHIRE.

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    Book barnstorming -

    Now a presidential candidate, Edwards smiles while signing copies of his book, "Four Trials," at a bookstore in Concord, N.H., on Dec. 22, 2003.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • US PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JOHN EDWARDS PAUSES WHILE CAMPAIGNING IN DAVENPORT IOWA

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    Opening day -

    A day before Iowa's electoral caucus on Jan. 19, 2004, Edwards pauses during a campaign stop in Davenport. Sen. John Kerry won in Iowa, with Edwards finishing second.

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  • PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE EDWARDS AND FAMILY LEAN OUT OF BUS WINDOW

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    On the road again -

    Edwards and his children, Jack, 3, Emma Claire, 5, lean out of a window on the campaign bus outside a polling place in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 3, 2004.

    Corbis / Corbis
  • U.S. SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS PAUSES DURING CAMPAIGN SPEECH IN RALEIGH.

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    Facing facts -

    Edwards pauses during a speech at Broughton High School, in his hometown of Raleigh, N.C., on March 3, 2004, before formally announcing the end of his underdog campaign and praising John Kerry as the right man to challenge President Bush for the presidency.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Supporters of Democratic presidential ca

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    Kerry/Edwards 2004 -

    Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry display their support at an event in Market Square in Pittsburgh on July 6, 2004, where Kerry formally announced that his former rival, Edwards, would be his vice presidential running mate.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
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    Vice presidential debaters -

    Vice President Dick Cheney, left, listens to Edwards answer a question during their campaign debate on Oct. 5, 2004, at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

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    Conceding defeat -

    Edwards and Kerry stand together at Faneuil Hall in Boston on Nov. 3, 2004, as the pair conceded defeat to President Bush in the presidential election.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • ELIZABETH EDWARDS CANCER

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    Breast cancer diagnosis -

    Edwards, with his wife, Elizabeth, right, and their daughter Cate, look to supporters following Sen. John Kerry's concession speech in Boston on Nov. 3, 2004. That same day it was reported that Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer.

    AP / AP
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    Katrina comments -

    At the formal opening of his new poverty center in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Sept. 7, 2005, Edwards joins critics who panned the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina, saying the president was slow and indecisive in making decisions about the disaster.

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  • John Edwards Campaigns With Ned Lamont In Connecticut

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    Lending support -

    On Aug. 17, 2006, Edwards waits to speak at a rally for Senate nominee Ned Lamont, D-Conn., at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. Lamont went on to beat Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary, but lost to Lieberman, who ran as an independent, in the general election.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
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    Back in the race -

    Edwards walks past a cordon of student volunteers as he arrives to announce his candidacy for president, Dec. 28, 2006, at a house affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

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    Family ties -

    Edwards is introduced by daughter Emma Claire during a March 13, 2007, rally at Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C.

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  • U.S. presidential candidate John Edwards and wife Elizabeth talk to the media regarding Elizabeth's ongoing battle with cancer in Chapel Hill

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    A new challenge -

    Edwards and his wife discuss her cancer reoccurrence at a March 22, 2007 news conference in Chapel Hill, N.C.

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  • Former US senator John Edwards speaks 30

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    Leaving the race -

    John Edwards speaks on January 30, 2008. He is watched by his wife and children on Bartholomew Street in the Upper Ninth Ward in New Orleans, where the Habitat for Humanity project Musician’s Village is being built. Edwards pulled out of the White House race, leaving the fight for the Democratic nomination to bitter rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • John Edwards Endorses Barack Obama For President

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    Obama endorsement -

    Sen. Barack Obama and Edwards wave during a rally at Van Andel Arena on May 14, 2008 in Grand Rapids, Mich., following Edwards' endorsement of Obama after Sen. Hillary Clinton won the West Virginia primary.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Rielle Hunter

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    The other woman -

    In this Aug. 6, 2009 file photo, Rielle Hunter leaves the Terry Sanford Federal Building and Courthouse in Raleigh, N.C., with her daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter. On Jan. 21, 2010, publicly admitted that he fathered the child with Hunter, a campaign videographer.

    AP / AP
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    Admitting an affair -

    Bob Woodruff interviews John Edwards on ABC News Friday, Aug. 8, 2008 in Chapel Hill, N.C. The former North Carolina senator, who was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004, confessed to ABC News that he had lied repeatedly about the affair with 42-year-old Rielle Hunter.

    AP / AP
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    Funeral for Elizabeth -

    John Edwards and his children, Emma Claire, left, Jack and Cate, far right, leave the funeral service for Elizabeth Edwards at Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010. Elizabeth died Tuesday, Dec. 7 of cancer at the age of 61.

    AP / AP
  • Image: Former U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Edwards departs the U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem (Davis Turner / Reuters)

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    Facing indictment -

    John Edwards is accompanied by his daughter, Cate Edwards, left wearing red, as he departs the U.S. District Court after pleading not guilty to six federal charges in Winston-Salem, N.C., June 3, 2011. Edwards was indicted for using nearly $1 million in illegal campaign funds to help cover up an extramarital affair during his White House bid.

    Reuters / Reuters
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    Difficult testimony -

    Cate Upham glances at her father, former Sen. John Edwards as they leave the Federal Courthouse in Greensboro, N.C., May 2, 2012. Upham left the courtroom crying during testimony about a confrontation between her father and deceased mother. Edwards is charged with six criminal counts related to payments from wealthy donors that were used to conceal his mistress and the child they had.

    The News & Observer via AP / The News & Observer via AP
  • Image: John Edwards, Cate Edwards, Wallace Edwards, Bobbie Edwards

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    Not guilty -

    John Edwards speaks outside a federal courthouse as his daughter Cate Upham, left, and his parents Wallace Edwards, second from right, and Bobbie Edwards, right, stand by his side after the jury's verdict in his trial on charges of campaign corruption in Greensboro, N.C., Thursday, May 31, 2012. The jury found Edwards 'not guilty' on one count of accepting illegal campaign contributions and a mistrial was declared on the remaining five charges because the jurors were deadlocked. Edwards said in a statement following the verdict, "While I don't believe I did anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong and there is no one else responsible for my sins."

    AP / AP

It was just the previous week that John and I were the ones kicking dirt, trying to put ourselves anywhere except where we were, which was in a small room at UNC Hospital, waiting, huddled, for a bone scan. But that was where we were, waiting for the inevitable crush of bad news from my doctors.

And could it only have been a week before that when John had come home from campaigning and all seemed so well? It had been late when I heard him come in, but I awoke. I lay in bed listening to the sounds to which I have become accustomed over the last thirty years, the sound of his unpacking his bag in the closet, stepping into the shower to rinse off the day, brushing his teeth, padding down the hall to kiss the sleeping children good night. I love those sounds, the comfortable predictability that comes with a long history. Honestly, sometimes I awake as he comes in but fall back asleep before he finishes his ritual. But not tonight. Tonight I turned toward him when he climbed into bed and reached across for me. Long day? Yes, he answered, how’s your back? I had pulled a muscle in my back the day before, lifting a chest of drawers from behind a row of cardboard boxes in the storage room. I knew better: you lift with your legs not your back, but when you lean to lift— as I had to over the row of boxes in the storage room—you are always using your back. I had felt the pull as soon as I lifted.

Stupid me, I had thought. Why had I been so impatient? I should have waited for John to come home, but I had tired of seeing a lamp in the corner on the floor where I planned to have a lamp in the corner on a chest, so I had gone ahead alone. I remember moving into the house last summer. John was traveling, and I had wanted everything to look perfect when he came to the house for the first time. I put away thousands of books, unrolled rugs, made beds, unwrapped and washed dishes. And pulled a muscle in my back.

But it was worth it to see his face, get his kiss, when he came in to a house that was the colored-in picture of the house I had carried in my head for months, the picture I had described to him for just as long. The pulled muscle then was uncomfortable but worth it. And now, I suppose, I had done the same thing, on a smaller scale.

It’s not too bad, I lied, as he moved toward the warmth on my side of the bed. He laid his head on my shoulder and reached his arm over me to pull me close. As he pulled, I felt a bolt of pain up my back and twisted quickly under his embrace. And then he heard it: a pop, or a crack. A crack, we now know. The next day, Dr. Lee, who had been treating my back, sent me for an X-ray. The rib might be broken. And the following day, he called with the results. A rib on my left side was cracked, he said matter-of-factly. But the X-ray showed something suspicious on the other side, and he wanted me to get a bone scan. I hung up after scheduling the scan, but the thought was already gnawing in my head: what was he looking for? I had promised myself when I was fighting breast cancer two years before that I wouldn’t Google any more medical conditions. But I broke that promise to myself. And, again, no good came of it. I called Dr. Lee’s frank, smart nurse Ursula and told her what I had found online. They must be looking for cancer. He called right back. I am worried, I told him. He was honest, which I wanted, but his simple words were a dagger: I am worried, too.

John came immediately when I called, even though he was on his way to Indianola, Iowa. I said, “I need you.” It was all I had to say. He cancelled an evening campaign event and came back to North Carolina. I have e-mailed with the Iowa family in whose home he was supposed to have had a house party that night, and who had undoubtedly cleaned and prepared snacks for the friends and neighbors who were gathering to listen, preparing to decide— maybe in March—for whom they would caucus for president almost ten months later. The Waltons wouldn’t accept my apologies; he was where he should be, they said. I couldn’t really disagree. That night, back in North Carolina, John held me sweetly, tenderly, as we each lay awake, each pretending to sleep, each waiting for the morning sun to fill the room, waiting to go to the hospital, waiting to hear the words that were already playing on a loop inside our heads. The cancer is back, the cancer is back, the cancer is back.

Making breakfast for Emma Claire and Jack, packing their lunches, driving them to school, we forced ourselves to stop the loop, to concentrate on the children and the usual morning rituals. Baseball. This was the most compelling diversion we could imagine. They had climbed out of the car, loaded their backpacks on their backs and, as they always do, stood together on the sidewalk waving good-bye until we drove around the circle and headed out. As soon as we waved and drove on, the loop started again.

Now we were alone in the small examining room. I’d had an injection that would travel through my bones and illuminate the “hot spots” where cancer might be lurking, and now we sat waiting for the scan itself. A woman on the elevator spoke to me about this book, and I let myself lean into her words about what it had meant to her. I leaned into her words, and into the book and thoughts of all that had happened in the last six months.

For a few minutes more, I could be the woman who had won her battle with cancer and lived to write about it. I said hello to Baseball and let myself fall into the memory of those halcyon days.

Copyright © 2007 by Elizabeth Edwards. Excerpted by permission of Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.”

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