Comedienne Joan Rivers has been placed on life support following her cardiac arrest and medically-induced coma earlier this week.

Joan RiversRivers pictured in August 2013

According to TMZ the controversial television personality is now unable to breathe unassisted, and her family may only have a few days to decide whether or not to keep Rivers on life support machines. Her family apparently remain hopeful that if they continue with life support she will eventually make a recovery, yet the NY Daily News reports that Rivers "would never want to be a burden on anyone. If she can’t recover and live a full and active life, she would rather be gone."

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Support has flooded in for the enduring celebrity, who began her career in 1959. Celebrities including Charlie Sheen and Ellen DeGeneres have tweeted their well wishes to Rivers and her family. Joan's only daughter, Melissa Rivers, released a statement thanking the public for their support: "My mother would be so touched by the tributes and prayers that we have received from around the world. Her condition remains serious but she is receiving the best treatment and care possible. We ask that you continue to keep her in your thoughts as we pray for her recovery."

Rivers' long career in Hollywood began as an actress and comedy writer, and she rose to prominence as a guest on 'The Tonight Show' alongside Jonny Carson, whom Rivers has referred to as her mentor, although the pair fell out after Rivers launched her rival show, 'The Late Show'. She won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host for 'The Joan Rivers Show', and has published twelve best-selling memoir and humour books. Regarded by many as one of the hardest working women in Hollywood, she has also attracted a lot of controversy over the years for various comments she has made about fellow celebrities, religion and politics.

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