It isn’t surprising that Cate Edwards would take up the breast cancer banner in memory of her mother. As the oldest child in a political family, Cate concedes that it is not in her nature to nod and move on.
She was in law school when her mother died, leaving Cate and her younger brother Jack, 10, and younger sister Emma, 12. Her brother Wade died in a car accident in 1997.
“My work is with Count Us, Know Us, Join Us,” she says, referring to the online clearinghouse of support for women and their caregivers facing advanced breast cancer. Edwards is at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium as the ambassador for the program, launched by Novartis last year.
“I want to bring awareness and support to women living with metastatic breast cancer, a group for whom there is no cure. Women with metastatic breast cancer are very isolated,” she says, thus the website, which offers an online community connection through Inspire that allows women and men and caregivers to communicate with a similar community.
The program has also partnered with Inspire, which has built and is managing the online support for women with advanced breast cancer.
While awareness of metastatic disease is her primary goal, Cate says another important aspect of the campaign is to give caregivers tools for support and education.
Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 and her cancer recurred in 2007. She died in December 2010.
Cate Edwards addresses her mother’s final weeks as an example. Edwards was moved to hospice care when the doctors where she was being treated said they had found tumors in her liver and gave her two weeks to two months to live.
“We had wonderful palliative care nurses,” Cate says. “And my husband is a doctor who could translate what the medical information meant. She wanted to come home to die and we were able to do that. She died in only a few days after coming home.”