Still Jill podcast and ovarian cancer

Still Jill is a five-chapter podcast by journalist Jill Emberson that recently won the Documentary and Storytelling category at the 2019 Podcast Awards. The podcasts chart Emberson’s story from diagnosis of ovarian cancer, through clinical trials, and ends in the marriage of Jill to her partner Ken.

Emberson’s podcast is also a call to government to increase funding for research and clinical trials. Currently, there is no screening test for ovarian cancer. Citing the improvements in health care for women with breast cancer, she hopes that an increase of funding to ovarian cancer research will help to extend the survival rates of people with ovarian cancer. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 91 per cent, compared with the 46 per cent five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer.

This activism by Emberson has led to the creation of a movement called “Pink Meets Teal”, a Newcastle-based movement aiming to create an army of advocates who can push for greater funding and awareness for ovarian cancer research. The group is hoping to harness the high level of community activism and awareness around breast cancer to achieve better treatment options and survival rates for women with ovarian cancer, because research for ovarian cancer receives four times less funding to that directed to breast cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Australia is currently running a campaign called “It’s Time for Ovary Action”, also trying to bring more attention to ovarian cancer awareness and supporting Australian women with ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer in statistics

  • Eighth most common cancer affecting women in Australia
  • In 2015, 1365 new cases of ovarian cancer were diagnosed in Australian women. The risk of being diagnosed before age 85 is 1 in 85
  • In 2016, there were 938 deaths caused by ovarian cancer in Australia
  • The five year survival rate for ovarian cancer is 45 per cent

Source: Cancer Council of Australia

Signs of ovarian cancer

There are often no obvious signs of ovarian cancer, however, one or more of the following symptoms may be present:

  • abdominal bloating
  • difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • frequent or urgent urination
  • back, abdominal or pelvic pain
  • constipation or diarrhoea
  • menstrual irregularities
  • fatigue
  • indigestion
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • unexplained weight loss or weight gain.

Source: Cancer Council of Australia

Still Jill is an ABC Radio Podcast.

By Natalie Hudson, Women’s and Anna Stewart Program Restricted Committee member