The Jill Emberson Effect

“My name is Jill Emberson. I’m a journalist and I’ve got ovarian cancer and I want to share my story with you.”

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These are the opening words of Jill Emberson’s podcast Still Jill.

Many of us would recognise Jill Emberson’s voice from presenting on Triple J and ABC Newcastle. I remember watching her on science program, Quantum, as a kid.

Jill was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer in January 2016. Within 12 months, it had metastasised to her brain.

Facing such a terminal diagnosis would see many of us retreat. Instead, Jill decided to use her well-recognised voice to raise awareness about the cancer that will one day kill her.

In a raw and very real insight into her diagnosis, treatment and advocacy, Jill explains that women like her literally don’t live long enough to form an army of advocates.

That’s because each year in Australia, around 1500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 1000 will die. The five-year survival rate is 45%, compared to 91% survival rate of breast cancer.

Through telling her story, which no doubt took enormous effort and no small amount of courage,  Jill has had a very real impact.

In February 2019, Jill gave a keynote speak in Canberra to launch Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Two months later, the Federal Government announced $20 million for research with a focus on early detection (there is no screen test for ovarian cancer).

Then, on the day her Australian Story was broadcast, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced a further $15 million in targeted clinical trials to improve treatments and discover cures for reproductive cancers, including ovarian cancer.

This is the Jill Emberson Effect. By raising her voice Jill managed to do what years of lobbying by cancer groups had failed to.

This the power of storytelling.