At 23-years-old, Linsey Godfrey of Stuart, has accomplished a lot.
She has a starring role on CBS' "The Bold and the Beautiful," she is an accomplished angler, she beat cancer and she helped save a life.
When she was just 9 years old, Linsey, her mother, Char Griggs and her stepfather, Capt. Ronnie Griggs, were fishing on the Indian River. It was a beautiful day and, literally out of the blue, a rogue lightening bolt struck. It knocked Linsey and her mother off their feet as it struck Ronnie directly, blowing out his ear drum, burning his shorts and melting his sunglasses to his head.
He was knocked unconscious and thrown overboard, tangled in a cast net. Griggs jumped in to save her husband.
Linsey knew she needed to set the anchor and get her bearings. On the phone with 911, trying to throw a heavy anchor, she realized the net Ronnie was tangled in was rolling out with the current and her parents were drifting further away. Linsey wrapped the net around a rod holder to stop it from letting out, and was able to tell rescue where to find them. Miraculously, Ronnie survived.
News reporters gathered at the hospital for a report and Linsey took to the TV cameras easily, taking the microphone and assuring her mother that she would handle it.
"I should have known then, that she was destined to be an actress," Char Griggs said.
Her acting career was launched in her freshman year at South Fork High School when, as a last-minute replacement for a sick student, she was discovered by a talent manager at a state thespian competition. The Los Angeles-based talent agency had a satellite office in Titusville and Linsey made the trip every weekend to study acting.
"That's when we knew she was serious," Char Griggs said. "She gave up a year of her weekends for this."
The management team and Linsey persuaded her parents to allow her to go to Los Angeles to pursue the dream.
The mother-daughter team traveled back and forth to Los Angeles so Linsey could audition. The Griggs took out a loan and Ronnie Griggs worked three jobs to pay for Linsey's dream. Griggs wrestled with the decision to let her 15-year-old daughter leave school — and the state — alone, but after several months, Griggs left her daughter in the care of friends and the management team that she had come to trust, so she could get back to work at the Stuart Sailfish Club.
Griggs was terrified. Linsey was not.
"It was easy for me. I knew what I wanted to do." Linsey said.
In between auditions and working, Linsey earned her high school diploma.
Linsey booked guest starring roles on "One Tree Hill," "The Suite Life on Deck" and the "Wizards of Waverly Place." She earned a contract role on the NBC series "Surface."
During filming of "Surface," she was fatigued. She went to several doctors, who prescribed antibiotics, vitamins and B12 shots. When the series wrapped up, Linsey came home to Tallahassee, where the family was living at the time. She still was exhausted.
After fainting three times in one week, the 17-year-old was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. The diagnosis came just a day after Linsey got her first movie role.
But the movie had to wait. Instead of filming, Linsey started chemotherapy. With a positive attitude about the 85 percent treatment success rate for Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Linsey chose not to be treated at a children's hospital. She felt guilty about getting well in front of kids who might not.
Linsey lost all of her hair during the seven months of treatment. That's difficult for any 17-year-old girl, but especially for an actress. Griggs shaved her head in support of her daughter. Linsey worried about what people would think.
"They'll think, 'Look! There goes a beautiful young lady, with a bald head — but what the hell was her mother thinking?'" Griggs told her daughter.
Linsey returned to Los Angeles a year after she left with her health and some of her hair restored. It was challenging at first, for the short-haired actress to get booked. She refused to wear a wig because it made her feel like she was still sick. Linsey estimates cancer set her career back by two years. Casting directors who were just starting to know her forgot about her after a year away.
But Linsey wouldn't change anything in her life.
"I am so grateful for having cancer," Linsey said, "It changed my entire life. It gave me a completely different perspective. I am so grateful for things. I understand peoples' struggles."
Eventually she booked an episode of "Cold Case," and "CSI Miami," and the upcoming film, "The Culling," among others. This March, she auditioned for the major contract role on "The Bold and the Beautiful."
Coincidentally, Linsey's character on the show is the niece of a cancer victim. When
she was hired, she was told her character did not have any tattoos. Linsey, her two sisters, and her mother had all gotten a survivor ribbon tattooed on the back of their necks in celebration of her recovery. When producers saw the tattoo and learned Linsey's story, they rewrote the story line and incorporated the tattoo into an episode that aired in April.
Linsey will have been cancer-free five years in January.
Learning pages of dialogue, shooting scenes and representing the show at events keeps Linsey busy. She attended the Daytime Emmy Awards last week. The rigorous schedule prevents her from getting home as often as she used to. She misses her family, but she misses Stuart, too.
"I miss the beach lifestyle. I miss the sandbar. I miss the Atlantic!" Linsey said.