Edwards says he's staying in

Elizabeth Edwards' breast cancer has returned, but the couple vows to stay in the race.

Published March 22, 2007 4:18PM (EDT)

John Edwards has just announced that Elizabeth Edwards' breast cancer has returned but that, contrary to press reports, he is not suspending his presidential campaign.

"We've been confronted with these kind of struggles and traumas already in our lives," Edwards said with his wife at his side. "You have a choice: You can go cower in the corner and hide, or you can be tough and go stand up for what you believe in."

Edwards said medical tests this week showed that his wife's breast cancer has spread into her bone but apparently not into other soft tissue. He said the cancer is "not curable," but Elizabeth Edwards said that she is feeling well and does not expect her treatment to cause any real difference in her schedule, at least not immediately. "I expect to do next week all the same things I did last week," she said. She said she could not "deprive" the American people of the opportunity of voting for her husband just so that he could sit at home with her while she's feeling well.

Edwards discovered a lump in her breast toward the end of the 2004 presidential race; hours after John Kerry and John Edwards conceded the election to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, a doctor in Boston informed Edwards that the lump was cancer. Edwards underwent chemotherapy, surgery and radiation treatments, and she ultimately received a clean bill of health before her husband decided to make a run for 2008. Last May, Edwards said the only thing that would stop him from running was "Elizabeth having her health problems come back."

She had what was described as a routine check-up on Monday, and her husband returned to North Carolina to be with her on Tuesday. Wednesday night, campaign aides said that the couple would be appearing together at today's press conference.

National polls have shown Edwards running third in the race for the presidential nomination behind Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- and fourth if former Vice President Al Gore is included in the question.

Update: Oncologist Lisa Carey says that Edwards has "stage 4 metastatic cancer" and that there's a possibility that it has spread to her lungs as well as her bones. Carey said that "many patients" in similar circumstances have lived "for many years," but that some have not.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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