A memorial service to be held at the National Library is being planned for Elizabeth Caplice on October 7, who died at age 32 on July 12 in Canberra.
Raised in the Redlands, Elizabeth attended Thornlands State School and Redland College and completed a Fine Arts Degree at QUT before working as an archivist for the national library on a graduate scholarship.
Elizabeth was diagnosed with Stage IV Rectal Cancer in June, 2014 and, despite, enduring chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and diagnostic tests, she died two years later.
During this time, she became well known in palliative care circles through a blog she wrote about her experience with cancer.
“She told her own story of what it is like to be a young person diagnosed with a terminal illness. Elizabeth developed a wide following, including medical practitioners specialising in palliative care and oncology, both doctors and nurses.
“She said that if she could save just one person from going through the ordeal she had faced, then her cancer was not in vain. Elizabeth encouraged anyone with any persistent symptoms to visit their doctor and insist on a thorough investigation, preferably a colonoscopy,” her mother Julianne Caplice of Thornlands said.
“Her blogs were raw and truthful and she had a following all around the world.”
Mrs Caplice said one of Elizabeth’s greatest regrets after her diagnosis was not being able to continue in the career she found so stimulating and rewarding.
“I have read many moving tributes to Elizabeth from school friends with whom she kept in touch and some who just remembered her fondly. As she had lived in Canberra for almost nine years, I realise that there are probably many people who knew her from her school days who would not know she has passed away,” Mrs Caplice said.
In September last year, Elizabeth travelled to Iceland with the support of her oncologist.
Elizabeth held an “A-Wake” in May before her death so she could see her family and friends for one last time. Her funeral in Canberra was a quieter affair but good friends and work colleagues will host a wake in late September/early October to honour her memory.
“When Elizabeth knew that her time was limited, she told me that although she did not want to die so young, she had packed more into her 32 years than some people do in 80 or 90 years. She said she would rather die young with many happy memories of good friends and great adventures over a short life, than live to 80 or 90 with very few memories to cling to.
“She knew what was happening and she just lived with it, telling it like it is. I feel some comfort seeing her paintings on the wall and having memories of her all around me,” Mrs Caplice said.
She is survived by her sister Anita, 37 and parents Bill and Julianne. Her partner Alex Phillips supported Elizabeth throughout her diagnosis, treatment and time in hospice and stood by her every day.