10 weeks ago doctors spotted a “shadow” on my liver, which turned out to be a whole bunch of lumps. After an x-ray, ultrasound, MRI, nuclear medicine scan, a biopsy and 10 weeks of limbo, I found out on Friday that it’s not cancer.
Big sigh of relief!!
These past 10 weeks have been very stressful for me as I reflected on my life: past, present and future.
My present is fabulous – I’m living the dream! I love my life now that I’m following my passion, seeing the beauty in the world, and sharing it with a wonderful man who loves me. We have no debt, we’re free to do as we please with no anchors holding us down, and our lives are full of adventure.
But going through this time of worry, I couldn’t shake the thought that my feelings in the past would impact my future. This thought kept running through my mind:
“I wished my life away.”
It was all those years that I didn’t like my life, when I only saw the bad things in the world, and I didn’t want to be in it. I wondered if I spent so much time not liking life that it caught up with me. I felt like standing up and yelling “I changed my mind!”
Maybe I’ve discovered the purpose of life after all: to find the thing that makes you want to be part of this. It’s a quest to find the beauty, the goodness, the happiness.
Or perhaps it’s to choose it.
Perhaps the best way to fight evil and injustice is to simply lead a good and just life and help others do the same.
At the very least, all this has made me realize that I have in fact changed my mind. I’ve turned into one of those people who wear the “Life is Good” t-shirt. The same ones I used to roll my eyes at, not being able to understand them at all.
So now we’re free to be snowbirds again!
Our feet have a slight dusting of snow right now though so we just have to wait out this little cold snap we’re having here in BC (and just about everywhere else in North America) and then, in a few days, we can lift our wings and fly south again.
The adventure continues…
Please click the image to view a larger version.
I really want to thank you, my readers and friends, who took the time to send me your thoughts and wishes through my blog or social media, and the astounding number of people who reached out to me through email. It really did make a huge difference to get your messages and to know that I’ve helped you in some way.
I never dreamed that my story would resonate with so many people.
I only hope that if there is someone out there reading this who is wishing their life away, they might come to understand that they can change it. It sounds simplistic, but just start living the life you want. It’s not as hard as you think (the thinking is much harder than the doing).
You might feel like an impostor at first, but soon it will become your life, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t change it sooner.
Anne, so glad to hear the news.
Enjoy your trip down south.
Jackson Frishman says
Hooray! I was increasingly worrying that no news might be bad news. So glad to hear that’s not the case! Enjoy your migration, and please feel free to get in touch if you’re heading for the Eastern Sierra or Eureka Valley.
Charles Lloyd says
I am so glad to hear about your coming back out in into the sunshine. It is always a bummer to deal with health issues.
I am one of many who appreciates what you and done and will continue to do helping me reach my own goals.
Looking forward to watching your Google Map Position head south.
Joe Hudspeth says
Excellent Anne. Can’t wait for your adventure to begin.
Bonnie Fink says
Its 85 in Orlando today, the trick is getting here from BC. Glad your health scare is over. Enjoy traveling. We started traveling a few years ago and can’t figure out why we didn’t start sooner. We’re much happier and enjoy life.
James Greenall says
So happy for you that all is well, medically. Now be on your way and post many more of your ravishing images for us all to enjoy.
Patricia Davidson says
Yay! I’m so glad everything is fine. Looking forward to seeing you guys take off and share your next adventure with us.
Russ Bishop says
That’s wonderful news Anne! Now back to what you were meant to do!! Enjoy your journey.
Chris Pugh says
That’s wonderful news Anne… I’m looking forward to following you adventure again now that you are no longer in limbo!
Sarah Marino says
This is wonderful news and must be a tremendous relief! This story is even more reason for people to listen to your story of following your dream and finding freedom without waiting for everything to align or in waiting for retirement. I hope you enjoy your upcoming travels!
Glad you’re able to get on your way.
This is the 2nd post in as many days I’ve read talking about following your passion. Really resonates right now because I’m trying to just do that but of course the fear gets in the way.
Thank you for the thought provoking post.
Steve Hughes says
Yay!! I’m so happy you have good news! Time to look at life through new eyes…
Enjoy your trip!
Shirley Slayton says
So glad your wait is over and all is well. I know it must have been torture not knowing. Enjoy life and all the beautiful sights and photos in your future. Thank you for sharing with us. Your experiences and photos brighten our days.
Lisa Gordon says
This is wonderful news, Anne.
Truly, you are an inspiration.
Chris Hansen says
Prayers answered. So glad to read the good news from you. I wish you safe travels southward.
Laurie MacBride says
What wonderful and welcome news, Anne! I’m so happy to hear that you are well! Congratulations on this, and also on how well you did making it through this worrisome time – even managing to do regular blog posts and newsletters. Love the simplicity and colour in the geese photo and look forward to reading about your upcoming adventures.
Jeanette Hill says
Great to hear the good news. I was so worried for you, but didn’t ask in case you didn’t want to talk about it. Have a wonderful new adventure in 2014.
Anne, so glad to hear the good news. Now we can all breath a sigh of relief and happiness for you. Your letter is very inspiring and I certainly can take away some of your thoughts to a better life. Enjoy the holidays, your trip to warmer weather, and a new and happy 2014.
Sue-Ellen Smith says
So very pleased everything has turned out well. Beautiful heartfelt reflection. Look forward to seeing our photos and reading about your adventures. And yes you are right, life is good and thanks for sharing it.
John of Sinbad and I on the Loose says
Whew!! Now you continue on moving forward. Enjoy your new found life.
Although I didn’t send an email/comment, my thoughts and prayers were with you. Glad you can get back on the road again. (Do you hum that song sometimes?)
I’m hoping this is the year we’ll be doing what you’re doing. Thanks for all your beautiful pictures and encouragement!
Anupama Puneeth says
so happy for you Anne 🙂 Enjoy your journey and all the adventures it unfolds.
I loved this specific post so much and surely bookmarking it so i can revisit ….to refresh my thoughts with those simple facts of life you have put across so nicely.
Thrilled and much relieved by your good news, Anne.
Glad too, to know that you have been able to forge a lifestyle that can provide you with an income while allowing you to pursue your dreams. While I don’t believe it would be possible for everyone to follow your example, its very inspirational to watch your progress.
Thank you for your wonderful images and for your inspiration.
cynthia hinson says
Michelle Deiter says
God Bless you Anne! Keep smilin’ and shooting..
Richard Wong says
Glad to hear that you are ok, Anne. Looking forward to seeing what the next year’s worth of adventures results in.
Delina Soumis-Roehm says
Glad to hear it wasn’t cancer! The post made me think about my life
So good to know you’re off and running again. Thanks for keeping us posted!
Sherri Stone says
I have been wondering about you and am so very happy to read your great news! You now have a new lease on life that we hear about. Go south young woman and savor the joys of making your magical photographs that I so enjoy!
Anne, that is absolutely awesome to hear. If we end up down south this winter I will definitely get on touch. Happy (and healthy) travels.
Rachel Cohen says
I’m sooo happy, and thankful for you! You were in my thoughts during this whole waiting period. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been! Now you can…….
Run free, enjoy, have fun, live life, and continue to make magic with your camera!
Lots of hugs! 🙂
Edith Levy says
This is fantastic news Anne. I’m so happy that everything is ok. Now go out there and make more beautiful pictures that we can enjoy 🙂
Dirk Swillens says
so glad to read this Anne 🙂
all the best to a happy snowbird 🙂
Terrific news Anne. I am so happy for you. No doubt you will see the world around you with new eyes now. Best wishes for continued great travels, health and happiness.
I am soooo happy to hear the good news. Thanks to God. Have a nice trip. may good luck always be with you…
So happy to hear the good news.
Steve Briant says
Glad you’ve been given the all clear Anne.
Steve and Dianne Colibaba says
That’s awesome news Anne! Now you can leave all that stress behind and enjoy all of your future adventures. You and Ray are doing it right. You are still young enough to do everything now as there are no guaranties in our tomorrows as far as health and mortality.
Safe travels and hopefully our paths will cross again.
Glad everything turned out okay! I would love to take up the traveling life but it seems so daunting financially. I hope someday to do that, if I start planning now.
A wonderful early Christmas Present for you, Anne. I am so pleased for you. You’ve got your life back, go, have a ball.
So happy for you that you have such good news and good health to continue to look forward too!! Thanks for being so open to sharing your experience, it means that in yet another way you have touched and inspired others. Very Best Wishes,
yes!!! I knew you would be fine! and to let you know I have several Life Is Good shirts and believe it everyday, so glad to hear that you will be able to” do what you love and love what you do”, all the best to you Anne, you go girl!!!
Wow! Such a great news Ann. Merry Christmas!!!
I’m so glad to hear the good news! Welcome back to the snowbird club, we’re waiting for you in Florida. 🙂
Hi Anne, I am new to your blog and just read your story. I went through similar issues, too. Myself and my family. Mine was always good, my brother & father were not so fortunate.
It’s great that you made your choices in young age.
Wishing you a healthy 2014!
Great, I knew it!
Randy Gerdes says
Terrific news, Anne. Will be 72 here in Phoenix today. Get going!
Anne, I am so happy for you.
Have fun on your journey!
Toad Hollow Photography says
We’re so happy to hear the GREAT news here and to see that you guys are out and adventuring again!! Can’t wait to see the photography from your latest expedition!!
Hi Anne…so happy to hear that all is well! I’ve been thinking about you and wondering how you were doing, so I’m really happy to hear the great news! Have fun on your travels…spread your wings and fly south to warmer climes! You’d love Mexico (Puerto Vallarta/Banderas Bay) – about 85F during the day! Take care, happy travels! Anne
Joshua Gabbai says
Along with the Great news, we wish you Happy anniversary and B’day and a wonderful Year 2014 from the Holly Land.
Enjoy every moment.
A very special good year to you!! So happy for you and yes, you are right: lead a good and just life and help others do the same. Looking forward to all your beautiful photo’s (and e-books!) in 2014 and many years afterwards. Regards from the Netherlands.
I’m so happy to hear you are alright.
Enjoy and savour every minute and everything the good LORD allows you to see and experience. My wife Lynne and I just came back from the San Juan mountains and the Grand Canyon. We were truly thankful to be able to see and experience such amazing beauty. Also all the great people we met.4 years to go to becoming Snowbirds.
Paul Plak says
just when I opened your newsletter, I noticed on the google map insert that you were no longer in Victoria or any place near BC, but in southern California. So I immediately felt happy, because you would’n’t have gone that way if the medical testsyou talked about previously had turned out to be bad.
So enjoy it ! Have a nice Xmas and u happy new year, wherever you go.
Paul, from Belgium, who discovered some of the beauties of BC in 2012 and has been very happy to see them again among your photographs. Sharing your photo lessons and the photo newsletters the way you do makes the world a better place.
Len Saltiel says
I know that I am a little late in posting here but I have been traveling and with the holiday season… I am so happy to hear your good news Anne and I will be looking forward to your travels in 2014.
You are living a version of my dream too! More power to you, I agree too many of us and too much time is wasted wishing our days away! I am trying to be grateful I have a job I mostly enjoy!
So glad to hear your good news Anne… I know I am late but Happy New Year Anne xx
Laura Regnier says
Wonderful news Anne! I too find such happiness in photography . It forces you to slow down, look around and drink in the beauty which is Nature. We are creatures of this Earth and the more we appreciate what it offers the more in tune we will be with “the big picture”. Look forward to more of your gorgeous photos and travels and may you continue to find happiness in your pursuits!
Wishing you he very Best in life. I too once said that I am done….yet after a bump I turned into another person who has decided to live day by day happily. Thanks for your wonderful blog
Sandy Burch says
Congratulations on the wonderful news. I wish you a long, healthy and fulfilled life. I have only recently discovered you. I am delighted with my find! I’ve been a very amateur photographer for some time. YOUR simple approach to photography crystallized a concept I previously had seemed unable to retain. Thank you! I have begun a 365 project along with the challenge of happily snapping away as I work through Book 1 of “The Compelling Photograph”. Love it! Nice meeting you. Good luck and best wishes.
Furry gnome says
Just found your blog, and it looks fabulous. Hope to learn some more photography skills. As for the diagnosis, good news. Once you’ve had serious illness, you do make different life choices!
I am glad that it wasn’t cancer…maybe you should lay off the rum & cokes and Tylenol for a while….Too me and my experiences cancer is not that big of a deal any more. My mother, father, and I had cancer and we all survived. Treatments have improved remarkably in the past decade.
Mentally you have to be focused on your cancer.Have your fears, but don’t let them have you. What did upset me while I waited for my daily treatments was seeing the children getting treatment as well. No child should ever have to go through that. But anyway, there was this girl about 10 or so who had lost all of her hair, wore a leopard print fedora, pink & black with sparkling sneakers. She just hopped around the halls, of the hospital dancing, and singing. I think we should learn from the children. I really wanted to photograph her, but I did not want to exploit her condition so I never asked her and her parents. I’ll never forget that little girl’s bravery.
I hope my little story helps anyone who has cancer and has to deal with the daily treatments.
Anne McKinnell says
Thanks for your comments R, but I wouldn’t say cancer isn’t a big deal anymore. I’m glad you and your family members survived, but I’ve had relatives and close friends die within months of being diagnosed. The survival rate for liver cancer is 15%, and that takes into account the people who are able to have their cancers removed surgically, which would not be the case in my situation. Inoperable liver cancer is not something you walk away from.
Trella Hastings says
I just found your website today. Wow, wish I could have found it sooner. I am one of those not especially wanting to be in this life. I thought I had the man of my life for 17 years, when last summer he up and left me for a younger woman. Actually, he had been seeing her for some time before that. Yeah, the story of my life. Guess many others have had this also.
Enough of that. I am an amateur photographer and I do write some. I use to write a lot but I am having trouble getting the inspiration to do so. I visualize the words in my mind but can’t get them down on paper. I will continue to explore your website and travels, hoping to find some glimmer of hope for myself. I live in the Pacific Northwest.
Anne McKinnell says
Hi Trella, thank you very much for your message. I hope you have found some inspiration to help you continue on. I don’t know if this will help you or not, but one thing I have found is that it is much easier to write if I don’t edit myself. I could never look at a computer screen while we are driving, but sometimes I write and I just type. I don’t look at the screen, don’t edit any mistakes, don’t change any words. Just type. I’m always amazed at how much I can write when I do that. (of course my husband is diving!) Sorry to hear about your relationship, that totally sucks.
Constance Renda says
This is such an inspiring post! You certainly have a dream life! I’d love to be a full-time RVer, and travel all around the country with my camera. I’m single, so I don’t have any responsibilities to tie me down. But unfortunately, I don’t have the money to follow my dreams. I guess I’ll always be stuck at a job.
James Fields says
First I have heard of your scare glad you are fine . I follow your husband on love your rand he does great stuff I also have your site but don`t go to it very often, but when I do love your pictures. Have a wonderful time heading south .
Britton Swingler says
I am discovering this post late…two-years-plus after you wrote it, and it is inspiring still. To read about your journey from darkness to light, via photography is not only poetic, but powerfully moving. Thank you.