December 16, 2017
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California cancer patient with amnesia identified by family

By Marty Graham, Reuters
Updated:

SAN DIEGO — A Southern California cancer patient unable to recall her identity or family since she was found dazed on a street four months ago finally has reconnected with relatives after a nephew spotted her on the evening news, media reported Thursday.

The woman, whose Facebook image has circulated widely on the Internet and previously was known only as Sam, was identified Wednesday night as Pennsylvania native Ashley Manetta, 53, according to San Diego’s NBC television affiliate.

She was first recognized from a newscast picture by her nephew, who called his mother, who in turn contacted the FBI, and with help from local police and Manetta’s caregivers she was put in touch with a sister in Maryland, KSND-TV reported.

The TV station, which originally broke the story about a California cancer patient with amnesia, said the two siblings then spoke by telephone.

“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,” the station quoted Manetta as saying afterward.

Asked by Reuters about the KSND account Thursday, an FBI official declined to comment except to say, “we’re satisfied with this as an outcome.”

Manetta was found semi-conscious on a street near the beach on Feb. 1 in the town of Carlsbad, California, about 30 miles north of San Diego, and firefighters called to the scene reported she did not know her own name.

At a local hospital, doctors found she had cancer and removed a large tumor from one ovary, according to a Facebook page set up for her by a nurse. Sam, as she was then called, said she has since been moved to an assisted-living facility, was undergoing chemotherapy treatments and had lost all her hair. Her prognosis was not good, she said.

She also asserted she suffered from retrograde amnesia, adding on Facebook: “I pray my family will be found soon.”

She was described as speaking English and French with a British or Australian accent and reported she had dreamed of being in Australia and Hawaii.

It turned out that Manetta, who has never married, was born in Pennsylvania, has lived in Arizona and traveled extensively. She moved to southern California several years ago and has sisters in Colorado and Maryland, according to KSND.


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