Greeted by two standing ovations, Elizabeth Edwards said Monday she's been buoyed by a national outpouring of sympathy since announcing a recurrence of her cancer, including 12,000 e-mails.
Now she understands how seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong felt as he competed before cheering crowds at bicycle races, Edwards in a speech at the City Club of Cleveland. It was her first solo public appearance since she and her husband, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, announced last week he would stay in the presidential race despite the incurable cancer that has spread to her rib.
"You can't stop when people are cheering for you all along the way," she said. "It makes the private journey we are going through now easier."
As Edwards entered the room, the crowd about 270 people unanimously rose and applauded. Smiling, she shook hands with everyone at her table before lunch. She received a second ovation as she approached the podium to speak.
"If you can just keep standing and applauding for another 25 minutes, I can go straight to the question and answer," she said drawing laughter from the crowd.
She was invited to the well-known Cleveland issues forum about three months ago to take part in a lecture series of women speakers.
Mrs. Edwards, 57, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in the final weeks of the 2004 campaign when her husband was the running mate of presidential candidate John Kerry. She underwent several months of radiation and chemotherapy.
The couple announced Thursday that she was again facing cancer, only this time it was incurable and had spread to her bone. Despite the diagnosis, the Edwards said they wanted to forge ahead with his second bid for the presidency.
Mrs. Edwards, who appeared with her husband on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday, also disclosed that a "hot spot" has been detected in her right hip besides the cancer found last week. She said doctors told her they believe it is too small to pose a new health risk.
"There are a couple of hot spots, on the bone scan, in my right hip, for example," she replied. "And one of the questions is whether or not to do radiation to reduce the size of that - of the cancer in that location - and for fear that it might weaken my bone and that I might break my hip. But their consensus was that it was too small an area for that to be a risk."