Leading gynaecological cancer advocates honoured on Teal Ribbon Day

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This Teal Ribbon Day (24 February), Cancer Australia is honouring the late Jill Emberson, award-winning journalist, and Professor Karen Canfell, renowned cancer researcher, with the 2021 Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award (JFCARA). The award recognises people who have made a significant contribution to improving outcomes for women with gynaecological cancer.

Teal Ribbon Day supports Australians affected by ovarian cancer, honours those we have lost and raises awareness of this deadly disease to change the story for future generations.

In 2020, it is estimated that 6,498 women would be diagnosed with gynaecological cancer in Australia, which is 9.5% of all new female cancers. Gynaecological cancer as a group was estimated to represent 9.5% of cancer related deaths in women in 2020.

"Our 2021 recipients of the Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award embody passion, courage, determination and intelligence. By recognising Jill and Karen, Cancer Australia honours the tremendous contribution they have made to improve outcomes for women with gynaecological cancer in Australia,” said Professor Dorothy Keefe, CEO Cancer Australia.

Jill Emberson OAM has been recognised posthumously in Category One of the JFCARA, for members of the community, in acknowledgement of her passionate advocacy for ovarian cancer awareness.

An award-winning journalist and radio presenter based in Newcastle NSW, Jill was spurred to raise awareness and funds for ovarian cancer after her own diagnosis in 2016. In 2018 she created “Still Jill” a podcast that documented her cancer experience and founded Pink Meets Teal, "a community of women who want to see the five-year survival rate of just 46% for ovarian cancer reach the phenomenal 91% survival rate for breast cancer”.

Jill was named Newcastle’s Citizen of the Year in early 2019 for her contribution to journalism and advocacy work which included helping successfully lobbying the federal government for $20 million for ovarian cancer research.  She died later that year, at the age of 60, four years after her diagnosis. She was awarded an Order of Australia medal in June 2020 for her contribution to broadcasting, and for her advocacy for ovarian cancer research and treatment.

Professor Karen Canfell is the successful recipient of Category Two of the Award, open to health professionals and researchers, working in gynaecological cancer.

Internationally renowned for her work, Professor Karen Canfell is an epidemiologist and modeller who specialises in cervical cancer prevention. An Adjunct Professor at Sydney University Medical School and Director of the Cancer Research Division at Cancer Council NSW, she also led the first evaluation of scaled-up cervical cancer prevention policies at the global level, which informed World Health Organization discussions and their call for global action to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem.

Professor Canfell led the modelling and clinical trial experience that underpinned the Renewal (review) of the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) in Australia. She has led similar policy evaluations of new cervical screening approaches for government agencies in several countries, which have directly informed more than 12 policy decisions in different countries. She regularly advises health departments and screening programs in multiple countries.

Established in 2013, the Award is named in honour of the late Jeannie Ferris, former Senator for South Australia who was passionately committed to raising awareness about gynaecological cancer in Australia. Senator Ferris was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October 2005 and passed away in April 2007.