Jill Emberson is a successful radio and television broadcaster. She has presented Mornings on Triple J, was a reporter on science program Quantum and most recently she was a presenter of Mornings at ABC Newcastle. She is a much-loved member of the Newcastle community. Jill has also faced one of life’s harshest challenges, being diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. Today, Jill is bravely sharing her own personal story of love, life, family and a terminal illness on her podcast, Still Jill.
We recently had the privilege of speaking to Jill about her wedding to Dr Ken Lambert, who we had the pleasure of dressing for the day, along with his four sons. Read our chat here and see some of the beautiful moments from the day as captured by photographer Alex Jack Photography.
1. Congratulations on your recent wedding to Dr Lambert. Can you please take us back to the beginning? When, where and how did you first meet?
Ken and I met in Newcastle 8 years ago. I was quite new to town and in need of a driver for the ABC show Treasure Hunter. A girl friend from Sydney who then lived in Ken’s share house in Lambton suggested Ken, who was divorced and not in a relationship.
He came dressed up as Hoke Colburn from Driving Miss Daisy. Which was pretty cute. At coffee after the show I had a chance to get to know him a little and I liked what I saw.
A few dates later – some more successful than others – we realised we had a lot in common. We grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney, were the first in our families to go to uni thanks to Gough’s tertiary education policy, we both loved our jobs and both loved our kids above all else.
His two youngest were still at home and my daughter was in year 11 with the HSC in sight.
We did not move in together until Malia left home, then we bought a beautiful home near the beach in Merewether.
2. You’re proposal was a little bit unconventional, can you share the story with us?
I had never been married and was not a particular fan of the institution but when I woke up from emergency brain surgery in September 2017 I saw Ken in a new light. He saved my life. He was the one who rang the ambulance that got me to hospital just in time to avoid catastrophe.
“Partner” seemed an altogether insufficient term for this beautiful man. I’d also had a dream that we got married surrounded by music, with me in a flowing hippy skirt.
So, with my head in a heavy bandage, lying flat out in a narrow bed in the noisy neurosurgery ward of the John Hunter hospital I recounted the dream and popped the question.
To my surprise he declined.
“As a doctor’, he said, “it would be irresponsible of me to say yes while you’re under the influence of so many drugs and just out of brain surgery.”
He thanked me sincerely, squeezed my hand and suggested we return to the subject in a few weeks.
Our glorious wedding celebration of 15 September is proof that Ken indeed changed his mind.
3. When and where were you married and why did you choose that venue?
We got married in the McIntyre theatre at the Newcastle Museum. I love the location of the venue, the texture of the room with its brick walls and large high windows. We opted for minimal decoration. The Rev Garry Dodd from the Mission to Seafarers married us. He’s an old friend of Ken’s and I like and admire Garry. He helped us develop the service over several Thai lunches.
Our wedding was so much fun, friends joke that they would have bought tickets to be there. The weather was magnificent, 30 degrees.
It’s difficult to select a highlight but they include walking down the aisle with my daughter, Malia, seeing Ken looking so handsome as he waited for me, hearing our five children formally approving our marriage and the music, oh the music. Ken’s son Benjamin was musical director and with the other three boys played all the instruments – keys, violin, guitar. The musical tone of the ceremony was set with Ken and his sons singing an accapella version of People Get Ready before Malia and I and our three flower girls arrived.
“Love is in the Air” was the signature song of the day with Ken and I dancing spontaneously and the congregation erupting into song along with us.
My niece Leah Ellis brought the house down with her solo of Beyonce’s Love On Top and we walked out to Signed Sealed Delivered.
We had a cocktail reception at The Beaches hotel where we danced our hearts out to local band Baltic Bar Mitzvah.
It was the perfect night for cocktails on the deck. The speeches were short and sincere and Ken and I remembered most of the steps to our bridal waltz to How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You.
The next morning the sun shone again for a relaxed breakfast in our backyard catered for by friends Bella and Matthew.
4. And the bride and groom wore?
My dress was made of purple Italian lace and made by Kelly Rose at Atelier Rose at the Junction. Malia wore an off the shoulder top over high waisted grey mega flared trousers, also from Atelier Rose.
Ken wore a Wolf Kanat Burgundy Velvet Blazer with Wolf Kanat pure wool black trousers , Brooksfield black shirt and Panoti purple and black paisley tie.
The boys wore New England Code Grey 2-piece suits with a Brooksfield black shirt and Collezione Roma Burgundy tie.
5. Did you and Ken honeymoon and if so, where did you go?
We went swimming with whales in Ha’apai, Tonga. It’s a life changing experience. If ever you go, try to time your trip with the new moon. The whales are more active then.
6. Back to reality, while your illness will not define you, you have said it is something you feel compelled to talk about. What is the most important message you want to share?
Ovarian cancer is in desperate need of awareness and support. It’s a uniquely female cancer but awareness of its lethal prognosis is overshadowed by the breast cancer marketing machine that has delivered a stunning survival rate of 90% and rising for women.
I’ve learnt that many breast cancer organisations have so much money they don’t know what to do with it.
Meanwhile, women with ovarian cancer don’t have the capacity to build the same kind of army of advocates. We are fewer in number and we die quickly.
Our five-year survival hasn’t shifted beyond 44% for decades.
It’s difficult to say this….
7. What topics does your podcast, Still Jill cover off?
It’s in 5 x 15 minute episodes
- Marry Me Ken
- Mum’s Got cancer
- Let me be Your lab rat
- The wedding
8. We understand you’re not the medico in the family, but what have you learnt along the way about the disease that you want to tell our readers?
There is no early detection test. A PAP smear is for cervical cancer. Common misunderstanding.
Women who get ovarian cancer live in fear from the moment of diagnosis. It’s easy to overlook the symptoms so it’s typically diagnosed late. As a result, the initial treatment is brutal and the chances of relapse high. Once it relapses it’s incurable.
It’s easy to feel guilty about missing the symptoms and if you’re a mother it’s then easy to feel guilty about the prospect of leaving your children.
Women with ovarian cancer live with fear and terror. I have had to face my own mortality and although I am about to turn 60, I am way too young for this. I am having my strength tested on so many levels, but I am doing what I can with what I have and trying to be as little a burden on my loved ones as possible. I am passionate about this disease and will do what I can about it but I want to do other things too. I want to go back to work and go to the beach. I want to hang out with my friends and family. I want to be #Still Jill
To subscribe to the podcast get it from the ABC Listen App or iTunes. Here’s the link: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/still-jill/id1437853975?mt=2
Rundle Tailoring Tip: Don’t be afraid to use different textures and patterns within your wedding party as Ken and his groomsmen chose to do.