updated 12/08/2010 AT 2:05 PM ET
•originally published 12/08/2010 AT 8:05 AM ET
Two months ago, Elizabeth Edwards was laboring to climb the stairs of the old colonial house she had recently bought in Chapel Hill, N.C., for herself and her youngest two children. Separated from husband John since January, she looked forward to making a fresh start come springtime in this new home.
But even as she daydreamed on this sunny October day, Edwards, 61, gasped for breath with tears in her eyes and cursed her chemo.
“Damn these drugs,” she cried. “Damn cancer.”