SAN DIEGO, Ca. (WFLA) – A mystery woman who is battling stage 3 cancer and couldn’t recall her identity made a desperate plea for help on the internet, with the hope someone will know who she is. Now, she has finally learned her name.
The woman called herself “Sam” and was found on a Southern California street earlier this year. Her heartbreaking story went viral around the world. It turns out Sam’s real name is Ashley Manetta. The 53-year-old never married, was born in Pennsylvania and lived in Flagstaff, Arizona before making her way to Southern California, according to a KNSD NBC San Diego report which also says Manetta has sisters in Colorado and Maryland.
First responders found Manetta in distress in February in the beach community of Carlsbad near San Diego and took her to the hospital where she said doctors diagnosed her with stage 3 ovarian cancer and amnesia. Interpol posted her description online, and the FBI circulated her information to other law enforcement agencies in hopes of finding people who know her. Investigators interviewed her and took her fingerprints, said Darrell Foxworth, a special agent for the FBI in San Diego.
With the help of several nurses, Manetta recently appealed for help on Facebook. She said she was recently discharged from the hospital after undergoing surgery to remove the tumor and lost her hair during chemotherapy. “My prognosis is not good and I pray my family will be found soon,” she wrote.
Manetta, who speaks English and some French, wrote online that she feels a connection with Australia. She remembers eating breakfast at a seaside organic restaurant near Perth and swimming in a saltwater pool. She also said she has recollections of living in Hawaii. “I just feel like there’s this thick fog over my mind, my memory, over my brain that I can’t see through,” Manetta told KNSD-TV in San Diego this week.
Manetta’s nephew saw the KNSD story online and called his mother to tell her about the mystery woman, who was actually his Aunt Ashley, reported KNSD. Manetta and her family members were reunited with a phone call. “It was extremely emotional. We were all sobbing. They’re so sorry I had to go through what I did during this time without them,” Manetta told KNSD. She plans to fly to Maryland and live with one of her older sisters.
KNSD reported that Manetta wanted to thank the millions of people around the world who saw her story and prayed and offered helped with leads and suggestions.
Information from the Associated Press and KNSD TV was included in this report.