Why Sanibel Island, Florida?
What is it about Sanibel Island, Florida that makes it so special that it has the earned the honor of becoming the location for a party forty years in the future? Beverly shares her personal experience on the island below:
"The first time I drove across the causeway to Sanibel Island, I felt as though I had arrived home. I felt a deep level of contentment and knew that I never wanted to leave. We went back the following summer and stayed for a month, as both my husband and I have the ability to work remotely. As days turned into weeks, we discussed relocation, touring the local schools and researching the surrounding communities. We left the island with the plan to ponder our decision until Christmas and put our house on the market in spring.
Our plans were interrupted when I was diagnosed with breast cancer on October 17th, 2012. Time stopped as our focus shifted into survival mode and keeping my boys’ lives as normal as possible. But Sanibel was still at the forefront of my mind. My husband was appalled when I asked my medical oncologist if I would finish treatment before the following July. At a time when he afraid for my life, I was counting the weeks of chemotherapy, surgeries and radiation treatment in relation to walking the beaches on my beloved island.
Imagine my relief when the stars aligned so that we were able to plan our next trip three weeks after my last radiation. Crossing the causeway became my barometer for every phase of treatment…my rainbow shining bright after the storm. Every chemotherapy infusion was one step closer to paradise. Every surgery and radiation treatment was a check on a calendar with the esteemed prize of watching the sun rise and set over the surf.
Finally the day arrived and the tears rolled down my face as I realized that I had made it through the toughest part of my treatment. I still had two surgeries scheduled for the following fall but I was bubbling with excitement as we crossed the causeway that year. I debuted my super short hair a week later, free at last from my wig and complete baldness. My scarred, radiation fatigued body soaked up the sun as my ears were drenched in the sound of the lapping waves. The Caribbean flora and fauna, always adventuresome encounters with wildlife and long walks along the shell covered beaches helped me heal both mentally and physically.
Self-described as a sanctuary island, that beautiful twelve mile stretch of white sand and protected wildlife refuge has become my safe haven. I leave behind all of my worries and stressors when walking the beaches and photographing the wildlife. I created this page on my website to share my love for the island with all of you.
I hope to see you on October 17, 2052 at Bowman’s Beach as the sun is setting!”
Life lessons from Sanibel
Published in The Islander
Sanibel Island: tropical flora and fauna create a lush backdrop for sea shells so abundant that one must bear witness in person to truly comprehend. Manatees frolic carefree in canals while alligators sunbath on the river’s edge. Miles of National Wildlife Refuge lined with bike trails occupied by both residents and visitors. Everyone giddy with excitement to observe the nightly performance by the sunset, painting the sky with a palette of breathtaking color. The nightlife on the beach made up of nesting sea turtles and later their hatchlings, content to swim millions of miles to return to this sanctuary island every year. A unique tourist destination and home to an eclectic group of islanders void of stop lights or high rise hotels.
As coastal cities have changed with the times, Sanibel has remained untarnished, the residents steadfast in their dedication to maintain strict standards. “Protected Wildlife Habitat” signs stand guard over delicate vegetation, yellow tape quarantines sea turtle nests and fences protect the dunes. Sanibel is a sanctuary island because the residents have dedicated their time, talent and treasure to protect what is important to them... the island itself.
If you are fortunate enough to spend time on this beautiful island, listen to the lesson that it whispers as the salty air dances through the palm trees: “treat yourself as well as the islanders treat me”. Create a personal sanctuary in your life...you deserve it!
Beverly McKee, MSW, LCSW
© Copyright 2014-2015 Beverly McKee. All Rights Reserved
This article first appeared in the "Island Reporter"
Bald Eagle Rescue on Sanibel Island
Article featured in the Islander
"MOM! There's a bald eagle on the lanai!"
We were touring a vacant home near the exit at Ding Darling. Our boys, ages eight and ten had dashed ahead of us to the lower level. A very concerned voice cried out, "Mom! There's a bald eagle on the lanai!" I assumed it was a case of mistaken identity as I rounded the corner and discovered our national symbol of freedom. A bald eagle perched on the grill. He had crashed through one of the screens on the lanai and was trapped in a corner.
Watch this engaging video depicting our discovery, the tense moments in the midst of a rescue attempt and the satisfaction that comes from helping a vulnerable creature.
Brown Pelican Rescue
Story featured in the Islander
An inky darkness cloaked the lighthouse as I stepped onto the sand just before sunrise. Anticipating a morning of photographing the coastal beauty, I never anticipated saving the life of an innocent brown pelican or how he would help me heal after nine long months of cancer treatment. Read the details of the rescue by clicking here.