Elizabeth Edwards dies of cancer

Elizabeth Anania Edwards, mother, author, advocate, died today at her home in Chapel Hill, surrounded by her family.

Her death came at 10:15 Tuesday morning, according to a family friend. The scene was described as "very peaceful."

The friend said, "Elizabeth did not want people to say she lost her battle with cancer. The battle was about living a good life and that she won."

Elizabeth Edwards, a best-selling author and the driving force behind husband John Edwards' political career before it was destroyed by his infidelity, has died of cancer. She was 61.

Elizabeth Edwards reportedly was not in any pain and was surrounded at home in North Carolina by family and friends, including her estranged husband, a former Democratic presidential candidate.

When news began to circulate that Elizabeth had taken a turn for the worse and her cancer had spread to her liver, her family announced Monday that her doctors had recommended against any additional treatment.

"She found out last week and is at peace with where she is right now,” PEOPLE magazine’s Sandra Westfall told TODAY co-anchor Matt Lauer Tuesday before Elizabeth passed away. “She has a home full of relatives, which is how she always wanted it. They are telling stories, looking at old photos, and having as many laughs as tears.”

Jennifer Palmieri, a close friend who worked on political campaigns with Elizabeth, confirmed Wednesday on TODAY that the end had come quickly. “It was just a week ago that she found out that the treatment was no longer working,” Palmieri told Lauer. “It was very quick.”

John Edwards, from whom Elizabeth Edwards separated last year after he acknowledged fathering a child with a former aide to his unsuccessful vice presidential campaign, was with his wife and their three children: Cate, 28; Emma Claire, 12; and Jack, 10

During an appearance on TODAY last year, Elizabeth Edwards said that while it was difficult not to be able to “lean” on the man she once called “my rock,” she thought it was important to not shut him out.

“For the children she’s put on a brave face, and kept that relationship intact. He’s at the house this week, helping with the children, getting takeout for the family that is visiting,” Westfall said.

Agreeing with Lauer that it must be a difficult time for the children, Westfall said Elizabeth Edwards has been preparing them for her death for some time.

“She, years ago, starting writing a ‘dying letter,’ she called it, so she would have the advice to pass on and always be there with a mother's wisdom when she couldn’t be there physically,” Westfall said.

Elizabeth Edwards wrote two best-selling books, "Resilience" and "Saving Graces," about her long battle with cancer and the scandal surrounding her husband.

Elizabeth Edwards became an advocate in her own right for health care reform and for the poor, two issues that had driven her husband, too. In that work, she lacked his clout but also his baggage.

"Our country has benefited from the voice she gave to the cause of building a society that lifts up all those left behind," President Barack Obama said.