Elizabeth Edwards Makes Solo Public Appearance Elizabeth Edwards spoke Monday at the City Club of Cleveland in her first solo public appearance since learning that her cancer has returned. The wife of presidential candidate John Edwards said she was touched by a national outpouring of phone calls and e-mails expressing sorrow for her turn for the worse.
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Elizabeth Edwards Makes Solo Public Appearance

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Elizabeth Edwards Makes Solo Public Appearance

Elizabeth Edwards Makes Solo Public Appearance

Elizabeth Edwards Makes Solo Public Appearance

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Elizabeth Edwards spoke Monday at the City Club of Cleveland in her first solo public appearance since learning that her cancer has returned. The wife of presidential candidate John Edwards said she was touched by a national outpouring of phone calls and e-mails expressing sorrow for her turn for the worse.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Elizabeth Edwards was on the campaign trail today in Cleveland. The wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards was diagnosed with an incurable but treatable form of cancer last week.

NPR's Adam Hochberg reports on her first solo campaign appearance since her diagnosis.

ADAM HOCHBERG: When Elizabeth Edwards announced last week that her cancer had returned, she vowed that it would have little effect on her activities or her travel schedule. Today, she's set out to prove it, delivering a lunchtime speech in Cleveland, an event that attracted hundreds of well-wishers and a crush of international media.

Unidentified Woman: Best of luck.

Ms. ELIZABETH EDWARDS (Wife of presidential candidate John Edwards): Best wishes. Thank you. Thank you.

Unidentified Woman: And your husband...

Ms. EDWARDS: Thank you, (unintelligible).

Unidentified Man: Hi. I'm from a Norwegian newspaper.

Ms. EDWARDS: Oh, how are you?

Unidentified Man: Oh, how are you doing?

HOCHBERG: Mrs. Edwards appeared at the City Club of Cleveland, a century-old institution that's long been a popular stop for politicians. More than a dozen cameras recorded her as she shook hands with supporters and nibbled her at lunch. Later, she spoke about her disease and the encouragement she's hearing as she tries to fight it.

Ms. EDWARDS: I spoke late last week to Lance Armstrong, and we talked about how hard it was to be despairing when we have people cheering for us the whole way. You can't stop, can you? You can't stop when they're cheering for you the whole way? And that's how we feel from that support.

HOCHBERG: Edwards' remarks were more personal than political. She only briefly referred to her husband's campaign, promoting his plan for universal health care and touching on such issues as the environment and campaign finance reform. But most of her comments concerned her medical condition. And she again expressed optimism she'll be able to control it with ongoing treatment.

Ms. EDWARDS: It will be later this week, and perhaps next week, or probably later this week that I'll meet with my doctor to find out more information about the cancer that it's in me, so we can develop a protocol. But she's talking to a large number of people and I think she cares about me and wants me to get well. So she's - I trust her to guide me to the treatment that will be the most efficacious.

HOCHBERG: Today's appearance in Cleveland had been on Edwards' schedule for several months, part of a city club series of prominent female speakers. But after last week's news, today's event attracted what club officials said was an unusually large crowd. Judy Gustafson was one of several women in the audience who are battling breast cancer themselves. She called Edwards' fight against the disease an inspiration.

Ms. JUDY GUSTAFSON (Battling Breast Cancer): I think it'll make people more aware of how devastating the disease can be. I'd like to be able to be as strong as she is and to keep on fighting like I have been for almost three and a half years.

HOCHBERG: Indeed, since Edwards was first diagnosed with cancer in 2004, she's grown into a role model for many women. She wrote a bestselling book, became a popular guest on the talk show circuit, and says she's received more than 60,000 e-mails of support. Still, political analysts say it's hard to predict her for a new health challenge will affect her husband's presidential hopes. Karen Beckwith, who teaches gender politics at Case Western Reserve University, says Edwards' illness may cause voters to look at the presidential race in a new light.

Professor KAREN BECKWITH (Gender Politics, Case Western Reserve University): This offers Elizabeth Edwards and John Edwards the opportunity to emphasize issues of health care, of women's health, other issues related to women that may strengthen his campaign. All of these are issues that Democratic candidates do very well on. These are issues that really pull a female vote toward the candidate.

HOCHBERG: On the other hand, Beckwith says Mrs. Edwards' illness could hinder the campaign if it reduces the amount of time either she or her husband can spend traveling meeting voters and raising money. For now, though, the Edwardses say there are no plans for either of them to slow down. The former senator campaign in California today, while Elizabeth Edwards plans a book-signing in North Carolina later this week.

Adam Hochberg, NPR News, Cleveland.

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Edwards Will Stay in Race Despite Wife's Cancer

Edwards Will Stay in Race Despite Wife's Cancer

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Interview

Presidential candidate John Edwards announced sad news Thursday: Cancer has returned to his wife, Elizabeth. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, when her husband was the Democratic vice presidential candidate.

Since then, Elizabeth Edwards has undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment; she was thought to be recovering. Now, she has learned that the cancer has returned, and has spread from the breast to the bone.

While it is not curable, Elizabeth Edwards' cancer is treatable, and doctors are optimistic. That news has led her husband to announce that he will continue his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

John Edwards has said he would not run if his wife's health is a factor. At a news conference Thursday, John and Elizabeth Edwards announced that it is not.

Edwards said that immediately after today's news conference, he and Elizabeth were leaving for a campaign trip to New York, Massachusetts, and California.

Polls among Democratic voters show him running behind Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the nomination, though he is running strong in the early caucus state of Iowa, where he has spent a lot of time in recent months.

Edwards said today that he has given no serious thought to ending his campaign.