Elizabeth Edwards, 61, Dies After Six-Year Battle with Breast Cancer

VIDEO: The estranged wife of John Edwards loses a long battle with breast cancer.
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After a six-year battle with breast cancer, Elizabeth Edwards has died at age 61.

"Elizabeth Anania Edwards, mother, author, advocate died today at her home in Chapel Hill, surrounded by her family," said a statement released by her family. "Today we have lost the comfort of Elizabeth's presence but she remains the heart of this family."

"We love her and will never know anyone more inspiring or full of life," the statement read.

Edwards passed away at 10:15 a.m. this morning as a result of liver failure, but the family did not release the news until late in the day because her children were at school, a close friend of the family told ABC News.

Edwards, who was estranged from her husband and one-time presidential hopeful John Edwards, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. The cancer returned in 2007, and earlier this week it was announced the she had stopped all cancer treatment.

The family friend said that even Edwards was surprised at how fast her illness progressed in her final days. Doctors had told her just last week that she could have as many as eight weeks to live.

John Edwards and her three children were among those at her side, according to the family friend, who described the environment in the house as warm and peaceful and said the mood was sad, but also full of warm feelings.

The funeral is likely to be held later this week.

"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," read the family statement after Edwards' death.

Just one day before losing her battle to cancer, Edwards wrote a moving message on her Facebook page.

"You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces ? my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope," she wrote. "These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined."

"The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human," wrote Edwards.

"But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful."

President Barack Obama called John Edwards and his daughter Cate this afternoon after Elizabeth Edwards passed away.

"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," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

Click here to read more reaction from Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton and others.

John Edwards was campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination when his wife's cancer returned in 2007.

Elizabeth Edwards Dies at Age 61

"Her cancer is back. We are very optimistic about this," he said at the time.

But the stage-four cancer was deemed incurable, and within a year Edwards was fighting another battle. It was revealed that her husband had a sexual relationship with filmmaker Rielle Hunter.

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