New York, Aug.14 : An anguished Elizabeth Edwards decided to stay with her cheating husband, John, because she is dying and worried about their two young children, one of her close friends has claimed.
"It's just tragic. That's all I can say about it," Hargrave McElroy, Elizabeth's best friend, told the Daily News.
In a longer interview with People magazine, McElroy, a North Carolina teacher, said John Edwards didn't confess his adultery with his flaky videographer, Rielle Hunter, until after he officially announced his presidential run in December 2006.
Then Elizabeth had a terrible choice to make.
"There was anguish - excruciating anguish - for her in dealing with this....She couldn't say, 'Well, maybe we'll work through this for years, or maybe we should separate for two years,'" McElroy told the magazine. "[Cancer] forced her to choose whether to move forward."
According to new reports in the National Enquirer, Edwards didn't confess until after an unwitting campaign staffer walked in on him with Hunter and word got back to his wife, who confronted him.
By staying by his side in life and on the stump, Elizabeth Edwards hoped to ensure that her youngest children, 10-year-old Emma Claire and 8-year-old Jack, still have an untarnished father when she's gone, friends and relatives said. That is no longer possible - not after Enquirer reporters confronted him and forced his televised confession last Friday.
"It's so painful for her to see the father of her children become a pariah," McElroy mourned.
Worse, reports keep emerging that Edwards continues to lie and the affair never ended.
"They broke up a bunch of times, especially when Elizabeth was rediagnosed [with cancer]," a friend of Hunter's, Texas publicist Pigeon O'Brien, told People. "But they got back together."
The National Enquirer said Edwards, 55, and Hunter, 44, restarted the affair in 2007 and were still involved when Hunter got pregnant that May. She now has a five-month-old daughter whose paternity is a mystery.
The weekly also quoted sources close to Hunter saying that Edwards and his mistress choreographed their public tango over a DNA test: he offered to take one last week, she declined to allow it.
Meanwhile, Hunter's sister Roxanne Andrews, who says she spoke to her sister recently, told "Entertainment Tonight" the affair has not ended, that Hunter and Edwards are in touch and that Hunter remains deeply in love with Edwards.
The Enquirer also alleged that Fred Baron, a Texas lawyer who ran finances for the Edwards campaign, was still "secretly funneling 15,000 dollars a month" to Hunter.
The weekly also said Baron was paying off Andrew Young, the married campaign staffer who claimed paternity of the baby, to the tune of 20,000 dollars a month.
Until she fled last week, reportedly on a private jet to an overseas hideout, Hunter was staying in the Santa Barbara home of Microsoft millionaire Jon Kechejian, which rents for 9,000 dollars a month, according to a neighbor Susan Green.