Palm Beach County woman chosen by Virginia artist to be the face - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Palm Beach County woman chosen by Virginia artist to be the face of an artificial reef

PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Virginia artist is making an artificial reef to sit off the coast of Palm Beach. The reef will be shaped like a mermaid, with the face of a Palm Beach County woman.

The artist's name is Thomas McDonald.

"I work at a women's health clinic in Roanoke, Virginia. I'm very familiar with breast cancer, I've had people with breast cancer in my family. So I just thought of the idea, since it's October, let's go ahead and find someone with breast cancer and make her the face of the mermaid," Thomas says.

Through his connections in Palm Beach County, he connected with Andrea Torrente, who lives in the Loxahatchee area.

Andrea is fighting cancer for the third time.

"Fighting this disease every day... and to get a call that 'You're going to be a model for a statue that will be there for years.' It makes a difference. It lifts your spirits," Andrea says.

"People always told me 'You have the figure of a mermaid.' So it was like 'Yes!' I'm going to be that mermaid that everyone said I'm shaped like," she adds.

Andrea starts chemotherapy treatments next week.

"It sucks the life out of you," she says of the treatment sessions.

But she says she continues to fight against the disease for her teenage daughter.

"You feel down. You feel like 'Will it be tomorrow? Will I be able to fight another day?'"

As she continues to fight, she says she feels at ease knowing her face will live on for divers to see for decades.

"You don't know what tomorrow might bring. You might not be around because of cancer. But to know that the image of my face will be there for years... can't explain it. It's tremendous."

The reef will be placed off Palm Beach near The Breakers.

It's expected to be completed by next spring.

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