A Raeford mom with terminal cancer is spreading a message of hope to other cancer patients and their families — and is doing so one rock at a time. 

“We do it just to make others smile, but it keeps us close as a family. This is a huge family project,” explained Ashley Linden. 


She and her children paint rocks with messages of hope and strength. They hide them at local cancer centers and other locations where they think people who need them will find them. 

“It just started with one rock and we placed it outside the chemo clinic,” Linden recalled. 
“We get excited just dropping the rocks off,” she said.

She asks those who find the rocks to share their stories on her Facebook page.

“People with cancer get each other differently, and they understand what you’re going through that no one else will understand unless you’ve gone through it,” she said. 

Diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer in 2014, she went through multiple surgeries and nine different chemotherapies.

“It was pretty hard. It was some dark, dark days,” Linden said.  

Treatments didn’t work, and Linden is now in hospice care. Although there are difficult times, she remains focused on helping others and helping her children.

“Just making memories,” she explained.  “That’s what it’s all about right now.”

Her son Conner calls his mom his “biggest inspiration.” 

“She’s been there my entire life and she’s helped me through a lot,” he said.  

Now her children find joy in a difficult time helping their mom spread her message. 

“It’s kind of like my legacy — leaving my legacy for them to help others,” Linden said.