Canberra woman Elizabeth Caplice who won fans with her honest cancer blog dies, age 32


A Canberra woman who won a legion of fans with her raw and honest blog about cancer has died at the age of 32. 

Elizabeth Caplice died at 1.35am on Tuesday surrounded by her friends and family.

Elizabeth Caplice pictured last July.
Elizabeth Caplice pictured last July. Photo: Jamila Toderas

The National Library archivist has been remembered as a “warrior” and praised for her “raw and unforgettable” blog about her illness.  

Friends, fans and colleagues have paid tribute to Ms Caplice on social media, with some thanking her for “honest and utterly fearless” and brave writing and others describing her as a “vision online”. 

National Library assistant director-general of Australian collections Margy Burn, who was Ms Caplice’s supervisor, remembered her as a “different thinker” who had the “gift of making deep friendships and touching the lives of many people”.

“She leaves behind a loving partner in Alex, her much loved pets, and many, many close friends in Canberra, Australia, and across the world – and within NLA,” Ms Burn said. 

Elizabeth Caplice celebrating at her own wake in Civic in May.
Elizabeth Caplice celebrating at her own wake in Civic in May. Photo: Instagram

Ms Caplice won praise for her raw and honest blog where she unflinchingly documented the harsh reality of her illness.

In her final blog post on June 24, Ms Caplice wrote how there was “no weakness in my death, no failure as the inverse of success. As always, there is no battle I am losing”. 

“I was brave. This time, right now, I stand up and I say I am strong, and I am brave, and I am proud of myself, because I have chosen to stop chemotherapy at the time that is right for me, and I have chosen to go into hospice care at the time that is right for me,” she wrote.

“I hope you, my lovely readers, will understand that though it might be sad, it’s also a time of empowerment, strength and of letting go for me to live the final stages of my life as I would like them to be lived.”

Ms Caplice described how she was not giving in, but bravely spoke of the “unbearable” anxiety of waiting to find where and when she would go. 

“I have a lot to look forward to, and life to live, and that life may be very, very limited by the idea of ‘time’ in the long term, but I refuse to let it be limited by quality, or value, just because I’ve withdrawn treatment,” she wrote.

“I have lived a life of beauty and richness. And I am sad, and I am a bit angry that it has to end now, at 32, thinking about the histories and stories I would have built around me were I not to be dying. For me, I am not giving in, or letting the cancer take me passively.”

She shared her story with The Canberra Times in August, and in May, she held her own wake.

Ms Caplice was diagnosed with cancer after doctors found several large tumours in her liver in June 2014. 

After her diagnosis, she came up with two bucket lists to help her look past the unattractiveness of cancer and get stuck into enjoying life while she could. 

Her National Library colleagues raised funds to help their friend achieve her bucket lists, which included visiting Australia’s top 10 restaurants and travelling to Iceland. 

The fund will now be used as a memorial to support another National Library staff member in need. 

 with Megan Gorrey