CHICAGO – Elizabeth Edwards said she's been surprised by criticism of her family's decision to continue with her husband's presidential campaign while she deals with the reoccurrence of cancer.
Mrs. Edwards appeared via satellite from Davenport, Iowa, on Friday's broadcast of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
Before her appearance, several people were shown giving their opinion on Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards staying on the campaign trail — including one woman who said it was a "sad decision."
Mrs. Edwards, 57, said she has been surprised and "a little disappointed" by the criticism. She added that she's received the most support from families who have battled cancer.
"What bothers me about the judgment by people who haven't faced it is (not) that they're saying these things negative about us. We're used to that. If you're in politics, you better develop a thick skin.
"But they're also saying it to the families who decide they're going to stay in their jobs, they're going to continue teaching, or continue painting, or continue whatever their life work is, the thing that helps define who they are," she said.
Mrs. Edwards found out last month that her breast cancer, diagnosed at the end of the 2004 campaign, had returned in her bones.
Mrs. Edwards said she and her husband made the decision to stay in the presidential race while still at the hospital where she learned of her cancer results.
"I know there's a lot of criticism that John's making me do this. John first waited for me to say what I wanted," she said. "There was no question in my mind what I wanted to do. This is something we dedicated ourselves to a long time ago."
On Friday, Winfrey asked Mrs. Edwards about news she first discussed earlier this week — that she has a type of cancer anti-estrogen drugs are more likely to control.
"It's a very hopeful sign for fighting the cancer," Mrs. Edwards said. "There's more artillery available."
Mrs. Edwards indicated she doesn't want cancer to consume and define her life.
"Live until you die, however long that is," she said. "And that's my advice to people who are facing this diagnosis and to everybody else listening. Live until you die."