ON Tuesday, knowing that she did not have long to live, Jill Emberson asked a friend to visit her.
There was something she needed to say. Not to her friend, but to the federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt.
Jill was too unwell to write a letter to the minister herself. But she still had her voice. So she dictated the words to her friend.
In her letter, Jill acknowledged the federal government's announcement earlier this year of $20 million for research into ovarian cancer. It was Jill who played such an integral role in securing that funding, after making a passionate plea in Canberra for more research money.
But now, Jill pointed out in her letter, she wanted the minister to do more, to provide recurring funding for the fight against this disease. Once she was satisfied with what she had said, Jill proof-read the letter and sent it off.
So one of the final acts of Jill Emberson on this earth was to try and ensure more women had a better chance against ovarian cancer than she was given.
"That's the power of this woman," her husband, Dr Ken Lambert, told the Newcastle Herald. "To make sure the advocacy she started continues."
Jill Emberson died at her Merewether home on Thursday night. She had been battling ovarian cancer for almost four years. The celebrated journalist, broadcaster and ovarian cancer advocate was aged 60.
"She's given so much to so many people, it feels particularly unfair," said her friend Lauren O'Brien, the founder of the D Majors choir of breast cancer survivors.
"A great tree has fallen in our forest, that's how it feels."
Long before she began speaking up about ovarian cancer and the need for greater awareness and better funding, Jill Emberson was a well-known voice.
She had enjoyed a long career in radio and television, and had also worked in communications for organisations such as Greenpeace.
For Jill Emberson, having a voice was not simply about making a sound. It was about making a difference. As Jill herself once said, "I feel compelled and driven to make a difference".
In 2009, Jill moved to Newcastle with her daughter Malia to take up the role of the mornings presenter on ABC radio.
Theresa Rockley-Hogan is a former content director at ABC Newcastle and worked closely with Jill Emberson.
"She was such a fighter, but most of all, to me, she was a storyteller," Ms Rockley-Hogan said.
Among the most memorable stories were those for the "Meet the Mob" series, as Jill spoke with local Indigenous people.
"She was so passionate about the stories of Indigenous people being told," Ms Rockley-Hogan said.
"She was so good at getting people to talk. She was honest with people, and she listened."
About nine years ago, Jill met local GP Ken Lambert.
"Personally, she's been the absolute centre of my life," said Dr Lambert. "She lives life incredibly brightly.
"She's got an incredible journalist's nose, and that nose is connected to a sense of social justice, of making the world a better place."
Jill Emberson's world changed in February 2016, when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
As Jill said on the Australian Story profile about her life, ovarian cancer was known as the "silent killer". According to Cancer Council Australia, the five-year survival rate is 45 per cent.
"With ovarian cancer, women like me literally don't live long enough to form the army of advocates," Jill said on Australian Story.
So she formed her own army.
"I need to be a voice. I couldn't sleep well at night knowing that I didn't use what I could to tell the story of this cancer, and its gross inequity in the world of cancers."
She took listeners with her on her cancer journey in an award-winning podcast series, Still Jill. She spoke on stages large and small, raising awareness of ovarian cancer. And she founded the Pink Meets Teal campaign, enlisting the help of breast cancer survivors in the fight for ovarian cancer research and funding.
"I think we need to get angry about this disease, as angry as women were back in the 1970s about breast cancer," she told an International Women's Day event in March. "We need to get angry that our reproductive organs, our ovaries, the very cradle of life, are not getting the funding they need to stop women dying of cancer."
People listened and responded, from the health minister to those who recently attended the Pink Meets Teal ball and a bingo night in Newcastle.
Lauren O'Brien, whose D Majors choir was instrumental in the fundraising, said those events collected about $36,000. The money was donated to the Hunter Medical Research Institute to help fund ovarian cancer research, and it was dedicated to Jill. The donation was made on Thursday, just hours before Jill died.
Ken Lambert spoke of his admiration at watching his partner stepping onto the stage and into the public eye to speak about ovarian cancer, and all the while, "I know how much pain she's been in".
"But she gets frocked up, steps up to the mark and blows people away," he said.
Yet in the midst of treatment and her advocacy work, Jill Emberson got on with life. Ken Lambert said that they renovated their home while she was receiving "the first round of brutal chemotherapy".
Then, in 2017, the morning after she had undergone emergency brain surgery, Jill asked Ken to marry her.
"I was taken aback," he recalls. "I said, 'I don't think I can ethically accept that proposal, not until you're in your right mind'."
A couple of weeks later, he asked Jill did she still want to marry him: "She said 'yes'."
They were married in September 2018. Ken Lambert said the "joyous" occasion brought together Jill's 10 siblings for the first time.
"She's a connector, a joiner. She connects with people, and people connect with each other," he said.
Jill Emberson was recognised by her adopted home, when she was named as the 2019 Newcastle Citizen of the Year.
"She's been a phenomenal Citizen of the Year, and I think this is an exceptionally sad day," said Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.
"Her legacy is as a passionate mother, a passionate journalist, and a fierce campaigner for equality for ovarian cancer funding and research. And she was a passionate Novocastrian. She loved Newcastle."
Councillor Nelmes noted that through all her work, Jill had shone a light on what people felt when confronting the end of life.
"She really started to build an awareness of what it's like for anybody to live with a terminal illness," Cr Nelmes said.
Ken Lambert said his wife's desire to connect with people was undimmed, even when she was in the Mater hospice.
"She would still remember everybody's name, and ask about their life," he said.
Jill's desire was to return home.
For the final three days of her life, that was where she was, surrounded by all that was familiar to her, such as the Tongan textiles draped by Ken on the walls, honouring Jill's heritage on her father's side.
And she was surrounded by those who loved her. As the family revealed in a statement, Ken and Malia held Jill's hands in her final moments.
"She was aware of the love around her and was not in pain," the statement said.
City of Newcastle has announced a public memorial for Jill Emberson will be held at City Hall on January 23.
"She was a bit of a unicorn," said Lauren O'Brien. "Magical, generous, an advocate, a sister, a friend."
On his Facebook page, Greg Hunt said he was "deeply saddened" to hear of Jill Emberson's death.
"She was a tremendous advocate for Ovarian Cancer Research and an inspiration to so many Australian women," the federal Health Minister wrote.
"She's a beautiful soul who makes a difference to this world," said Ken Lambert.
As he talked about his wife, Ken referred to Jill in the present tense.
"She's very much present," he explained. "I haven't come to terms with the reality of her passing.
"There'll be a grieving process for many people. She's touched so many lives."
There'll be a grieving process for many people, she's touched so many lives."Ken Lambert, husband