In 2018 Marty De Loreto was simply hugging her husband when she felt an intense pain. At 43 years old, breast cancer was not on her radar, especially because she had no family history. Something about the pain didn’t sit right, so she called the doctor a few days later.

In February of 2018 she was diagnosed with triple positive, invasive ductal carcinoma stage 2B breast cancer. She would go on to have six rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy and immediate reconstruction, 34 rounds of radiation and immunotherapy every three weeks for 12 months. It was a grueling year and she credits her support system for keeping her afloat. Her parents drove her to nearly every treatment and kept her company, often reading books and chatting (“those were some of the best conversations of our lives”) and neighbors helped with childcare and meal trains. She notes that the months surrounding diagnosis are jarring because one must accept a total lack of control over the life they were previously living: “the biggest thing you can do is realize a person newly diagnosed has just lost control of their life and they are struggling to find something to grab onto that is solid and consistent. That might be friendship, a listening ear or regularly helping with the kids. Anything that feels firm.” As a project manager, Marty’s personality is one of planning, lists and organization, so she was grateful to those who alleviated the stresses of everyday life so she could fight for her own. And fight she did. Marty credits her mental stamina for the grit she showed during treatment: “it was never a question that this was potentially terminal. I didn’t think like that, nor depict my experience like that and having that mindset is so important. It’s a manifest destiny type of thing.”

Her fierce attitude earned her the title of survivor, but she notes that once treatment was done, she was left facing another battle: “you go from lack of control to a semblance of a mechanism that is helping you (whether that be chemo, radiation or surgery) and the one day you are let go from it all. You’re lost or adrift and stuck thinking, well now what?” Marty developed depression and still suffers from PTSD, factors that flared back up during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to work her way out of her depression, Marty began writing and blogging as a creative outlet. She crafted and found friends to talk to about her struggles. Her mantra became seeking a way to “replace pain with passion.” The post-treatment era of breast cancer is one Marty feels isn’t always addressed by doctors in the community. It’s why she is so passionate about blogging and providing resources to women newly diagnosed, so they may not have to go through what Marty did.

It’s abundantly clear Marty is a warrior. At every stage of her cancer experience she showed her commitment to ensuring cancer did not take her life from her and it’s that attitude that we are most excited to see hit our runway: “At the end of the day you have to find whatever you have in your depths to fight and fight like hell.