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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Elizabeth Edwards: Her Breast Cancer Experience

Elizabeth Edwards talks with WebMD about her breast cancer, treatment, and more.

Initial Treatment continued...

"Basically, your body just ached all the time," she says. Edwards was on a two-week cycle of treatment.

"It had a particular rhythm, where you'd start to feel better again just as you're about to get the next treatment ... you'd have maybe four days where you felt great, and then you were taking other medications that made you incredibly hungry -- steroids -- where you just sat in front of the refrigerator and grazed. And then the days after that when I was ... very achy, very tired, and it was just sort of hard to get excited or up for anything."

Help at Home

The Edwardses have three children -- Cate, who is 27, Emma Claire, who is 11, and Jack, 9.

When first going through breast cancer treatment, Edwards says her husband helped her cope, especially after the 2004 presidential campaign ended.

"It was like having somebody at home who didn't have a job, except he made his job taking care of me," Elizabeth says. "He would take the kids to the park and I would rest, and then I would read to them and he would cook dinner. He took a lot of the jobs that you might traditionally think of as the caretaking female jobs, just to make certain that the family operated the way that it should. When I went for radiation treatments, I had it first thing in the morning and he got up every morning, got the kids breakfast, and got them off to school."

Edwards says breast cancer "must be very hard ... from the perspective of someone who loves you."

"They feel they want to take care of you and they feel a certain amount of hopelessness, because there's obviously not a whole lot they can do that would change your outcome. And if you really express to them how frightened you are or how depressed you are, for them that's fairly depressing news, because they can't do anything about it; it's outside their control. And I hate that," Edwards says.

"So I've tried to walk -- I think a lot of us do -- a pretty narrow path of being forthright about our disease but not entirely forthright about our fears. I find that's true of me, and from talking with other women, I think that's true of them as well."

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