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3 min Read
Published May 18, 2018

Cancer and Kindness Rocks: Leaving Hope for Fellow Patients

Ashley Reaves Linden is only 35 years old. She’s been battling a rare form of cancer for years. But cancer hasn’t stopped her from spreading kindness where ever she goes. In fact, her frequent hospital visits have given her the opportunity to provide hope for many of her fellow patients — in the form of random acts of kindness.

Linden visits Duke Hospital nearly every week, as her fight with Neuroendocrine Cancer has meant dozens of treatments, surgeries, and scans. It means explaining treatment options to her three young kids. Visiting the hospital for scans is “always a nervous time of high anxiety, making the time leading up to the scan and awaiting results miserable,” says Linden. The news isn’t always what she and her family hope to hear.

However, Linden has found that kindness can conquer anxiety. Focusing on helping others who are struggling helps take away some of her own fears.

During each hospital visit, Linden leaves hand-painted “Kindness Rocks” with inspiring messages around Duke Hospital for other patients or families to find. She says, “Here is the rock I left last week at the Cancer Center after my paracentesis. Today, a woman named Cheryl discovered it after receiving some pretty devastating news. I have no doubt God wanted that rock placed there for her to find a week later.”

Cheryl, who found the rock, reached out to Linden on her Team Ashley Facebook page with a very emotional message:

  • “I was coming out of the Cancer Center today after being told my cancer is back. Why? Why?? I asked myself. I am a fighter. I got this. I have large sarcoma T-cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I look down with tears on my face, and what do I see? A painted kindness rock. I picked it up, and read the message on the back. I felt so overwhelmed. This rock is going to give me strength. This rock will be with me through out all of this. Your rock is hope. Thank you.” – Cheryl

Linden says, “How amazing! Makes my heart happy to know in one of her weakest moments in life I was able to comfort her when she was alone! There are no coincidences in life. It’s all part of God’s plan.”

Kindness Helps Ease Painful Hospital Visits

Linden herself is benefitting from the kindness of others, as well. She’s spending as much time as possible with her kids, even traveling to Disney World courtesy of Inheritance of Hope, who provides all-expense-paid trips for terminally ill parents and their children so they can create lifelong memories.

Now, part of their family-time includes painting Kindness Rocks, and teaching her children about courage and the value of helping others.

After seeing the enormous impact a simple hand-painted message had on Cheryl, Linden realized she could reach dozens more patients at Duke Hospital, each struggling with their own unique battle.

“Each time I go to the Cancer Center–or anywhere really–we leave rocks that we paint in hopes of possibly brightening someone else’s day. We have heard from many people finding them in some of their darkest days, and if this is how the Good Lord uses me then I’ll do it!

More recently, Linden has been visiting Duke for more painful reasons. Fluid build-up in her belly requires her to visit at least once a week for paracentesis. “The fluid(ascites) causes a lot of pain and pressure and by the last day I can barely move.”

Despite the painful hospital visits, she still leaves Kindness Rocks. “The whole time I’ve been thinking about the smiles on the faces of people finding our kindness rocks.”

Linden Hopes to Leave a Legacy

Linden has discovered that the power of kindness doesn’t just help other patients — it helps ease her own anxiety and pain. Why? Because it connects her to the hundreds of other patients who, just like her, are fighting their own diseases and illnesses. Whether creator or recipient, the power of a Kindness Rock is the message: You aren’t alone. There is Hope.

It’s a legacy Linden hopes will continue at hospitals around the nation.

Kindness Rocks for Ashley Reaves Linden

If you’d like to help keep Linden’s Legacy of Hope going, please paint a Kindness Rock of two of your own, and leave them to brighten someone’s day. If you’re a patient or battling your own illness, she’d love you to consider helping her brighten the hospital with these acts of kindness.

To Help:

  • Follow Linden on her Team Ashley Facebook page.
  • Hide your own Kindness Rocks (or do any other random act of kindness!) with the hashtag #TeamAshley, so see can see the kindness spreading!
  • Tell her about any acts of kindness you’ve done for #TeamAshley or any you plan to do!
  • Lets see how many kindness rocks and acts of kindness we can do in her honor!

Despite her long and sometimes painful battle with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Linden keeps smiling and keeps spreading smiles to strangers.

“It helps keep my love buckets full. But above all, I do it for the glory of God.”

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  • heather


  • I sincerely believe that through the power of storytelling, I can make social issues become more than a set of statistics. My expertise is in community leadership, non-profit work, event coordinating, networking, and storytelling. All my articles.

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