Breast Cancer Survivor Goes Viral Thanks to Daughter's Handwritten Note - NBC4 Washington

Breast Cancer Survivor Goes Viral Thanks to Daughter's Handwritten Note



    News4's Jim Rosenfield talks to the mother Brenda Smith and her daughter Ashlea. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012)

    56-year-old Brenda Smith of Warrenton, Va. knows she's beaten some pretty grim odds, given her family history.

    Her own mother died of breast cancer at the age of 46 -- so this active Fairfax County sheriff's deputy was determined to be vigilant, going for annual mammograms.

    But 10 months ago, she was diagnosed with cancer.

    Brenda underwent a double mastectomy and aggressive chemotherapy. Her daughter, Ashlea, moved in with her parents to help.

    Finally, three weeks ago, with treatment completed, Brenda got some very good news: Doctors told her she appeared to be cancer-free. She called Ashlea immediately. "I said, 'Ashlea, guess what, the doctor said there's no evidence of cancer!'"

    "I thought I'm not gonna lose my mom the same way I lost my grandmother," Ashlea said. "How incredibly cool is that?

    So cool that Ashlea turned to this decidedly low-tech way to share the news with everyone in their tight-knit neighborhood: Tacking up a handwritten sign where everyone could see it on their way home from work.

    "I figured this was probably the very fastest way to let my little world know of my mother's cancer-free status," Ashlea said.

    But in this world of smart phones and tablets, Ashlea's sign was soon seen by a whole lot of people outside of her family's little world. Someone took a picture of the poster and it wound up on the Facebook page of

    The page quickly filled with thousands of virtual high fives in the form of comments, and more than half a million "likes."

    "Why do they feel something?" Ashlea said. "Because why wouldn't they?  It just touches everyone."