"From the minute this happened, not a whimper," former vice presidential candidate John Edwards told PEOPLE this week of his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, who kept secret her discovery of a lump in her breast just days before the election. On Nov. 4, after her husband's defeat, Elizabeth, 55, shared the diagnosis with the nation: cancer. Now the mom to Cate, 22; Emma Claire, 6; and Jack, 4, will undergo treatment. "I have to be there for them. I promised," she said of her family.