John Edwards Announces Wife's Cancer Is Back

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., announced today that his wife's cancer has returned, but that his presidential campaign will go on.

Standing together at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where they were married nearly 30 years ago, Edwards stood with his wife Elizabeth Edwards and announced at a news conference, "Her cancer is back."

"It's largely confined in bone, which is a good thing," he said.

Edwards said his wife's cancer isn't curable, though it could be managed with treatment. However, Edwards said "the campaign goes on, the campaign goes on strongly."

"We are very optimistic about this because having been through some struggles together in the past, we know that the key is to keep your head up, keep moving, keep strong and we intend to do that exactly," said Edwards.

"Right now, we feel incredibly optimistic," said Elizabeth Edwards, noting she has a low volume of cancer in her bones.

"I'm completely asymptomatic," she said, saying the only thing that hurts is her rib.

Edwards's wife said she experienced pain earlier this week on her side, and went "into alarm mode".

Edwards cut short his campaign swing through Iowa to be with his wife, a breast cancer survivor, at her doctor's checkup in North Carolina where she had x-rays taken.

Doctors ordered follow-up tests, did a biopsy of her rib and found a malignancy.

Mrs. Edwards had an advanced stage of breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and lymph nodes to other organs.

Despite the cancer diagnosis, Edwards said he would continue to campaign for president.

"Elizabeth and I have talked at length about this aready ...You can go cower in the corner and hide, or you can be tough and fight for what you believe in," he said.

"Both of us are committed to the cause and we're committed to changing this country that we love so much," Edwards said, "and we have no intention of cowering in the corner."

'I Look Forward to Seeing Them Both on the Campaign Trail'

Edwards' 2004 democratic ticket-mate Sen. John Kerry, D-MA., himself a prostate cancer survivor, issued a statement of support.

"Teresa and I are saddened by the news of Elizabeth's illness, but we know her strength and the support of their family will sustain her and John through this difficult period," said Kerry.

2008 presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., said, "Elizabeth Edwards is a wonderful and strong woman," she said. "I admire her optimism and I'm encouraged by her resolve, that she's going to continue with her life and I look forward to seeing her back out on the campaign trail," said Clinton.

Other presidential candidates' campaigns issued statements of support, including Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Gov. Bill Richardson., D-N.M., Chris Dodd, D-Conn., the wife of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, former Sen. Mike Gravel, D-Ak., and GOP '08 contenders Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Ma., former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., former Gov. Jim Gilmore, former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, R-N.Y.

The office of Michelle Obama, wife of democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., told ABC News that she would not issue a statement.

"Any reaction that she has will be done in private for this private matter," said Michelle's Chief of Staff, Michelle Winter.

'A Good and Positive Example'

At the top of his daily briefing for White House reporters, Press Secretary Tony Snow said the White House's thoughts and prayers are with Elizabeth Edwards.

To Elizabeth Edwards he said, "Good going, our prayers are with you."

"As someone who has been through it, she is setting a powerful example for a lot of people," said Snow, who has survived his own battle with colon cancer. "A good and positive example."

Cancer Diagnosis Impacted Edwards Campaign

This was to be the week John Edwards unveiled what he calls a "bold" energy plan for America.

He began campaigning on the issue in Iowa on Tuesday afternoon, however by Tuesday evening, a scheduled event in Indianola, Iowa was cancelled and Edwards headed to Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

This week, the Edwards campaign issued a statement saying, "Mrs. Edwards is having a follow-up medical appointment tomorrow to a routine test she had on Monday. She's had similar follow-ups in the past and they've all resulted in a clean bill of health."

The canceled event gave birth to the rumor mill, and some were speculating that Edwards would suspend his campaign due to Mrs. Edwards's health.

In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in May 2006, Edwards said the only thing that could stop him from running in 2008 is, "Elizabeth having her health problems come back."

However, Edwards put those rumors to rest today, saying the "campaign goes on."

Breast Cancer Survivor

In 2004, a day after he lost his bid for vice president, Americans learned that Elizabeth Edwards was battling breast cancer.

Mrs. Edwards was diagnosed with the disease and was thought to have successfully undergone chemotherapy. Doctors gave Mrs. Edwards a good prognosis and she has been regularly monitoring her health ever since.

Elizabeth Edwards proudly shaved her head before her hair could fall out. In her memoir "Saving Graces" she described her battle and the support she received from her husband.

'He Was a Great Writer'

Together, the couple had already weathered heartbreak with the death of their beloved 16-year old son, Wade, who died in a car accident in 1996.

"He was a great writer," Elizabeth Edwards said in a past interview. "He wrote one time, it was on Martin Luther King's birthday ... he said he learned you need to look at the inside of people and not the outside of people. He was seven when he said that."

With contributions by Kate Snow, Raelyn Johnson, Eloise Harper, Jake Tapper, Sunlen Miller and Jessica Yellin