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Artificial reef shaped like a mermaid is now underwater, the story behind it will inspire you

Posted at 7:13 PM, Aug 11, 2016

An artificial reef built to represent a local woman is now underwater. The woman featured on the reef is fighting breast cancer for the third time.

Andrea Torrente, 46, was chosen to be showcased on the reef more than a year ago by Thomas McDonald of Virginia.

He's created other artificial reefs before, but wanted this one to be special.

McDonald contacted the Susan G. Komen Foundation of South Florida to track down a survivor to be featured on the reef.

The Komen Foundation recommended Andrea.

"Andrea's the perfect ambassador for breast cancer. She's a beautiful lady, she's very courageous and the perfect person to work with," McDonald said.

On Thursday morning, crews lowered the reef into the waters off Singer Island.

"Having one of my pieces of art drop is just such a small part of the story. I think it's more important that we're celebrating Andrea's day. Also, it's my goal to have my grandchildren never hear the word 'chemotherapy.' Through funding, through research -- we're going to beat cancer one of these days," McDonald said.

Torrente got emotional as she watched the reef get lowered into the ocean.

"It's something that I'll take with me forever. It's history in the making. It's amazing," she said.

Torrente found out in 2014 that she had cancer for the third time.

She wants her story and the mermaid to serve as an inspiration to others going through cancer.

"If you have cancer and you're going through a rough time and you feel like you can't go on, listen to me. You can beat this, you can fight. I'm still fighting, and I'm going to beat this," she said.

The mermaid also has a tear on its face, which represents tears of joy and strength according to Torrente.

Her daughter was also in attendance on the boat as they watched the reef go underwater.

Alexia Brown, Torrente's daughter, says the process of building the reef and sinking it has brought the two closer together.

"It's breathtaking just thinking that her face, that she'll be able to leave her mark here for years to come," Brown said.

Brown said her mother is the strongest person she knows, and hopes to be just like her when she grows up.

"Even though she's the one going through everything that he's going through, when I need her-- she's there for me." Brown said.

Students from the Riviera Beach Maritime Academy helped with construction of the reef.

They will now continue to build other artificial reefs, showcasing even more breast cancer survivors.