Artificial reef soon to be on display

Posted at 7:04 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 10:05:34-05

A Virginia man's hard work will soon be on display 60 feet under water.

Thomas McDonald is creating an artificial reef, shaped like a mermaid.

But he wanted the mermaid's face to represent someone touched by breast cancer.

Through the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Thomas connected with Andrea Torrente of Loxahatchee.

"My mother had breast cancer. My mother-in-law had breast cancer. So I'm very happy to be a part of Andrea's life and to have her participate in the project," Thomas said.

The project will take 10 months to complete, and Thomas is getting some help from the students at the Riviera Beach Maritime Academy.

"Andrea is giving the mermaid life, the students are giving the mermaid a home," Thomas said.

Andrea is fighting breast cancer for the third time at just 45-years old.

She was first diagnosed when she was 37-years old.

"I'm doing chemo and also doing radiation. My cancer has spread. And I'm just fighting," she said.

Andrea goes to radiation therapy every day for the next two weeks. She also gets chemotherapy three times a month for the next six months.

"The chemo makes you sick. I just lost my hair. It makes you not want to get up. It makes you not want to fight. It makes you not want to do anything. It makes you really really sick." Andrea said.

Despite going through cancer treatments, Andrea said that being a part of this artificial reef project really brightens her mood.

"It's amazing, it's amazing. I still can't believe it's happening to me," she said.

The artificial reef is expected to be complete by the end of April and will be put in the water off Palm Beach in June.

On Tuesday, Andrea will get to see the progress of the artificial reef, along with county leaders and local divers.