Sally’s giv­ing it all she has got

Com­mu­nity sup­port for trans­port fam­ily

Big Rigs - - NEWS - An­drea Davy

WHEN doc­tors told Sally Kil­ner, can­cer could take away her voice, she recorded her­self telling her chil­dren she loved them.

“I couldn’t bear the thought that they would never hear me say that again,” she said.

Sal, an in­te­gral part of Kil­ner Live­stock Trans­port, is un­doubt­edly an ex­tro­vert.

She is some­one who loves hav­ing a chat, is nor­mally on the phone for much of a day run­ning the fam­ily live­stock trans­port com­pany, and has a thick Scot­tish ac­cent and in­fec­tious laugh that makes her eas­ily iden­ti­fi­able in her small Moree com­mu­nity.

But a per­sis­tent can­cer, which has re­turned for the third time and re­sulted in her hav­ing her tongue sur­gi­cally re­moved, threat­ened to change ev­ery­thing.

This month, the mother of two was left over­whelmed when Moree res­i­dents or­gan­ised a char­ity fun day to sup­port her fam­ily. Hun­dreds turned up and a sub­stan­tial kitty was raised.

Her hus­band, Baz, will have to step away from work to help raise their two chil­dren, Lucy and Matilda, as chemo, ra­di­a­tion and long trips to Bris­bane be­come, again, part of Sal’s daily life.

We spoke to Sal about her can­cer bat­tle and what the jour­ney ahead looks like.

She also shed some light on how an ad­ven­tur­ous young Scot­tish woman, who used to brag that one day she would be sit­ting be­hind a “big oak desk” on a mil­lion-dol­lar salary, ended up work­ing in live­stock trans­port and lov­ing ev­ery minute of it.

What made you de­cide Aus­tralia was to be your home?

My dream af­ter grad­u­at­ing from uni was to take a gap year back­pack­ing the world be­fore set­tling into a real job.

Aus­tralia was my main des­ti­na­tion and I loved the fact that there was so much of it to ex­plore.

Are your friends and fam­ily amazed you have made a liv­ing truck­ing Aussie cat­tle?

Ab­so­lutely! Considering I had al­ways imag­ined, and vo­calised, that I would be work­ing be­hind a big oak desk with a team of peo­ple earn­ing a mil­lion a year. And now, in­stead of the city and shiny wooden desks, I have the red dust, old half bro­ken down cat­tle yards and the work­ing dogs greet­ing me with a lick or a jump.

When did you re­ceive your can­cer di­ag­no­sis?

I re­ceived my first di­ag­no­sis while on hol­i­days in By­ron Bay in Septem­ber 2014, then, had an op­er­a­tion to re­move part of my tongue, 26 lymph nodes in my neck and had six weeks of ra­di­a­tion.

Then, just shy of two years in re­cov­ery the can­cer re­turned and I had more of

❝ Bet­ter grab the bull by the horns and give it all I have got... — Sally Kil­ner

my tongue cut out and a re­con­struc­tion done us­ing a piece of my fore­arm, I man­aged to be can­cer free for about nine months when it ap­peared again, this time the rest of my re­main­ing tongue was re­moved and my thigh was used as part of re­con­struc­tion.

So I now have arm and leg as my tongue.

What is it like to be told you may lose your voice?

When I was told this I ob­vi­ously got very up­set. I recorded my­self telling my chil­dren and hus­band that I loved them be­cause I couldn’t bear the thought that they would never hear me say that again.

Ev­ery night be­fore the op I would look the kids in the face and told them to watch me tell them I loved them be­cause they may never hear those words come out my mouth again, and we gig­gled be­cause I would make a few moans, and said “well, that might be the new I love you”.

From be­ing quite an ex­tro­vert and so­cial per­son who en­joys other peo­ple’s com­pany, to think­ing I would be sit­ting silently in the corner de­pressed me big time.

How is it know­ing your com­mu­nity is be­hind you?

Very over­whelm­ing, hum­bling, con­fronting... but once you get over that you re­alise it re­flects the love the com­mu­nity has for one of its mem­bers, and that is great.

■ To find out more, search for Live Life Like Sal.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

LONG BAT­TLE: Sally Kil­ner with her hus­band Baz from Moree. Sal is un­der­go­ing treat­ment for can­cer, which has re­turned for the third time.

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