'Honest and open and raw': Jill Emberson shares cancer battle

Jill Emberson shares ovarian cancer battle on ABC's Australian Story

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Still Jill: Advocate Jill Emberson has shared her personal battle with terminal ovarian cancer on Australian Story. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Still Jill: Advocate Jill Emberson has shared her personal battle with terminal ovarian cancer on Australian Story. Picture: Jonathan Carroll


Emberson urges women to understand the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.


NEWCASTLE broadcaster Jill Emberson has vowed to fight for fairer funding for ovarian cancer, even while fighting for her life.

Since her terminal diagnosis with the disease, the ABC radio personality has been "honest and open and raw" - sharing her intensely personal battle publicly to raise awareness, to lobby government, and to recruit the support of breast cancer survivors for her "Pink Meets Teal" campaign.

On Monday at 8pm she shared her experience, her hopes, and her message on an episode of Australian Story called The Good Fight.

"The program has a clear health message. It's not just my story - sad as it is - of cancer. It has a clear public health benefit," she said.

"There are some really confronting moments in there. But being honest and open and raw cuts through with people. I had to be myself, and tell it as it is, and that's what I've done."

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Ms Emberson said she wants everyone - but particularly women - to understand there is no screening test for ovarian cancer, that a pap smear is not a detection test, and to know the subtle signs and symptoms of the disease. She also wants people to know there is a "desperate need" for funding for the deadliest of women's cancers.

"Ovarian cancer gets four times less funding than breast cancer," she said.

"But we've had some success. We talk about the $20 million the government announced for ovarian cancer research in April this year, and just this week, the Health Minister has announced an additional $15 million for reproductive cancers research, which is fantastic.

"There is certainly a view that the lobbying I've done - on the backs of the work that many other women have done over the years - has helped make a difference to generate that funding. I think my voice has just come at a time to help catalyse action."

More money could make a big difference.

"Money funds research, research funds answers, and answers lead to better treatments," she said. "The additional $15 million just announced is for clinical drug trials. This is vital," she said.

"I have been on two trials, and they have definitely bought me time. Trials can make a huge difference to the survival of women.

"The five year survival rate for ovarian cancer is now at about 45 per cent, whereas breast cancer is 91 per cent and rising."

But the Pink Meets Teal movement - which brings women with breast and ovarian cancer together to draw on the strength of both - was "flourishing".

"It has hit a nerve with people who recognise that women with ovarian cancer should have the same survival chances as women with breast cancer," she said.

"We need to shake things up. No one is going to do it for us. I decided to take things into my own hands and do it, while I was sick.

"On the show, The McGrath Foundation has sent a message of support to Pink Meets Teal. That is a breakthrough - we have never seen that. A big breast cancer organisation showing its support for another organisation, in another cancer. Most tend to want to protect their turf.

"It shows our message is really getting across that we need funding, and funding equity, for these cancers."

Ms Emberson's episode is available on iview.

The story 'Honest and open and raw': Jill Emberson shares cancer battle first appeared on Newcastle Herald.