SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake woman was shocked after hearing her name in an online video from Guam when she realized the bottle she had thrown into the ocean three years earlier had been found.
Brittanie Penrose was 24 years old, battling brain cancer and visiting family in California when she threw a bottle with a message in it into the Pacific Ocean. The Salt Lake resident said she was uncertain about her future the night she threw the letter about herself into the water.
Three years later, video from a Guam online newspaper showed Linda Tatreau reading the letter found earlier this week.
"Hello, my name is Brittanie Somebody," Tatreau said in the video while reading from the letter.
Tatreau, a science teacher at George Washington High School in Guam, has her classes clean the beaches on Guam's shores and students often find messages in bottles. She uses the exercise to track the ocean patterns and teach her students about the tides.
One of Tatreau's students found Penrose's message. The student opened it during a celebration in front of hundreds of students.
Penrose said she was amazed to realize how far she has come since writing the letter about herself three years earlier.
"I just described me and what I'm doing, and at the time I was a phlebotomist and was fighting cancer," Penrose said.
She said the part of the letter about her cancer had been faded by the sun and was too worn out to read. But she said that may not just be coincidence. Her cancer is currently in remission.
Penrose is now 27 and, fittingly, she is once again in California visiting family.
She said she was on a similar visit three years ago — as she fought through chemotherapy and the trials of her cancer — when she found herself walking along the beach searching for answers.
"And we headed to the ocean and threw it off the pier," Penrose said of the bottle.
The note in the bottle contained a message about her life, her dog and her cancer. The bottle traveled from Oceanside Pier in San Diego County, Calif., nearly 6,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean until it was found by Tatreau's students this week.
"I was just in total shock," Penrose said. "I was like, ‘Is this real? This can't be happening.'"