The wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards died at her North Carolina home surrounded by family members. A family friend said Edwards died at 10:15 a.m., but they did not announce it because her children were at school.
"Today we have lost the comfort of Elizabeth's presence but, she remains the heart of this family," the family said 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. Your support and prayers touched our entire family."
In 2004, Edwards, a lawyer and author, learned she had breast cancer after an exhaustive year on the campaign trail.
After undergoing treatment, the cancer went into remission in June 2006. But the following year, the cancer was back and terminal. Elizabeth Edwards chose to remain on the campaign trail, supporting her husband.
Edward's health had taken a turn for the worse in recent days, with doctors saying that there would be no further benefit from continuing her treatment. She was told last Wednesday she would have two to eight weeks to live.
Family members say Edwards was not in pain in her final days and she was never unconscious. But in the end, it was her liver that failed.
Elizabeth Edwards posted on her Facebook page recently thanking those who have supported and inspired her.
"Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Elizabeth Edwards," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "In her life, Elizabeth Edwards knew tragedy and pain. Many others would have turned inward; many others in the face of such adversity would have given up. But through all that she endured, Elizabeth revealed a kind of fortitude and grace that will long remain a source of inspiration. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends."
President Bill Clinton also released a statement.
"With the passing of Elizabeth Edwards, America has lost a symbol of strength, hope, and humanity, a tireless advocate for health care for all Americans, and determined crusader for cancer cures," Clinton said. "Her children have lost a loving mother, her friends a wise counselor. My prayers are with them. She was a remarkable woman who dealt with the challenges her life dealt her with courage and grace."
California first lady Maria Shriver called Elizabeth Edwards a "mighty warrior."
Shriver said she and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger were deeply saddened to learn about Edwards' death.
""I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend, Elizabeth Edwards. My heart goes out to her loving family," Shriver said. "I hope her children know their mother was an inspiration to women everywhere -- a truly great woman."
Elizabeth Edwards made her last public appearance in September at the "Stand Up to Cancer" event in Los Angeles.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Edwards said, "I'm doing well. I'm always going to have cancer. Right now I'm in chemo, but I'm still here and still fighting."
Edwards faced struggles in her personal life over the years.
In 1996, her life and marriage were rocked by the death of her first born, Wade, when he was killed at age 16 in an auto accident.
Edwards vowed to have more children in addition to her then teenage daughter, Kate.
In 1998 at age 48, Edwards gave birth to Emma Claire. Two years later, she had son, Jack.
Edwards separated from her husband after he admitted to having an extramarital affair with a campaign worker with whom he fathered a child.
The two separated earlier this year. Edwards was by her side at the end.
Those close to the family said John Edwards and the kids will stay together as a family, likely in the family home.
Funeral services will be held either Friday or Saturday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.