Elizabeth Edwards delivered the commencement address at Meredith College in Raleigh Sunday, telling graduates to think about the life story they'll leave behind.
Edwards learned two months ago that her cancer had returned, and she says the outline of her speech changed after the new diagnosis.
She asked graduates to live deliberately, telling them that they too will someday have to face their own mortality.
The wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards also encouraged the graduates to get involved in causes such as curbing
global warming and stopping genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.
More than two-thousand people attended the ceremony in which about 380 students were awarded degrees.