A woman with a thick Australian accent rescued from the streets of Carlsbad, California, and battling cancer has caught the attention of police and FBI agents after doctors confirmed she suffers from a rare case of amnesia.
With the help of social media and a small group of supporters, the woman, known only as Sam, is on a search to find her identity — and possibly a person she may have been in love with.
“I just feel like there’s a thick fog over my mind, my memory, over my brain that I can’t see through,” Sam said. “I can’t remember anything. How I got here? I didn’t have anything on me, no jewelry, no purse, nothing.”
According to Carlsbad police, the case began February 1 when emergency responders found the woman barely conscious near the corner of Tamarack Avenue and Adams Street in the small beach resort community north of San Diego. The woman couldn’t tell emergency responders her name or any personal details. Doctors think the woman's amnesia was brought on by the antibodies of a malignant tumor. Sam has Stage 3 ovarian cancer.
Without a name, social security number, or a bank account, her battle with cancer has been further complicated. Doctors guess she is roughly 50 years old. Despite her situation, she relies on her faith.
“I didn’t feel alone. It felt like someone was holding me and I realized that it was God,” said Sam, who chose her name based on the biblical book of Samuel.
For several months she has had vivid and recurring dreams. Doctors believe such dreams may offer amnesia patients valuable information to help retrace memories.
“I started dreaming of Australia. That was my first recollection of anything. I was in a lap pool. I’d have these incessant dreams. I’ve probably had six or seven dreams initially of lap swimming," she said.
Sam uses words like “bloke” for man and “loo” for bathroom, said she feels a connection with the Australian city of Perth. She also remembers swimming, sailing, and scuba diving. She has said she recalls Hawaii, and describes the feeling of having been there “many, many times.”
She can’t, however, remember the names of any people in her life, but has dreams of a man she thinks she was in love with.
“I wonder about his name. I can’t ever get the name in my dream cause I really want to know, but I know there was someone," Sam said.
The FBI has taken her finger prints and used facial recognition software in an effort to locate her family. A page has also been created for her on the international police information sharing website Interpol. Her case has also gained traction on social media. A Facebook page created by hospital friends has helped gain the attention of the Australian Consulate.
Australian news outlets have picked up the story and tips from down under have begun to pour in.
“I’m hoping that someone sees me, or this (referring to the NBC story), or something on the Internet and my family immediately says ‘there she is!, there she is!’”.