In her later years, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg so caught the general public imagination that she became the topic of a 2018 biopic and a 2018 documentary, per The New York City Times. Affectionately dubbed “The Well-known RBG” by fans, Ginsburg likewise included in countless books, memes, tattoos, posters, and more.
But while Ginsburg was enjoying more public admiration than ever, she continued to quietly struggle with cancer. She had five bouts of the disease over the course of 20 years (via NPR). Ginsburg often kept her health news private, perhaps out of fear of alarming her supporters. In January 2019, she missed two weeks of oral arguments — a major rarity — to recover from lung cancer surgery, per Politico. After another round of cancer treatment in early 2020, she didn’t reveal that she was struggling with cancer again until July 2020.
Meanwhile, she continued to make public appearances. After a new leadership award was created in her name (via PR Newswire), the justice stepped out in sparkly heels for the occasion. She also received a Lifetime Leadership Award at the 2020 DVF Awards.
Indeed, Ginsburg was just as famous for her powerful court opinions as for her tireless spirit and fiery personality. She even maintained an infamously difficult workout routine into her 80s, which she once demonstrated for Stephen Colbert.
The justice was last seen by the public in late August 2020, when she braved COVID-19 to officiate a wedding for a family friend, per Vanity Fair.
Ginsburg died at home, surrounded by her family, NPR reported.