WDAY: The News Leader

Published October 28, 2012, 10:05 PM

The next Beautiful Woman, a woman who represents the beauty of life

Breckenridge, MN (WDAY TV) -- For the last year, we at Forum Communications have been proud to bring you the stories of Beautiful Women in our community. They are women who possess "REAL" beauty, true inner beauty.

By: Kerstin Kealy, WDAY

Breckenridge, MN (WDAY TV) -- For the last year, we at Forum Communications have been proud to bring you the stories of Beautiful Women in our community. They are women who possess "REAL" beauty, true inner beauty.

Tonight as we wrap up our project, Kerstin Kealy introduces us to our final Beautiful Woman. Who both deserves and defines the title.

Meeting these amazing and humble women and telling their stories has changed my life. It truly has been an incredible project to be a part of.

You've shared the stories of your moms, sisters, aunts and friends.. and they've inspired our communities..

For our latest everyday angel, our Beautiful Women team traveled to Breckenridge where we met Diane Marthaler.. Or "toot" as everyone calls her. She represents the beauty of Life. It was an interview filled with tears, of both sadness and laughter, and one we will never forget.

Toot Marthaler/The Beauty Of Life: "They gave me days to weeks to live."

That was August 27th. A day that forever changed the Marthaler family.

Scott Marthaler/Toot's Husband: "That day brought us to our knees, literally."

It's a courageous battle that started 4 years earlier. Now 41, Toot was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer in 2008. After a double mastectomy and treatment she went symptom free for two years, until a day she and her husband were on their way to their photography studio and realized something wasn't right.

Toot Marthaler/The Beauty Of Life: We would walk from here to the studio - about a mile and a half, and there were days I was like I'm going to fall over.

Doctors soon discovered cancer had returned. This time it was cancer of the pleura of her heart. Fluid was building up and pressing against her lungs and heart, making it hard to breathe or move.

Scott Marthaler/Toot's Husband: "If you'd have seen her several weeks ago, you'd have seen a whole different person. She wasn't supposed to be here right now."

After seeking every option, doctors told Toot and her husband Scott they had reached the end of the road.

Toot Marthaler/Beauty of Life: "She took my hand and she started to cry and she said it's your heart honey - it will just stop."

Processing the news with her husband of three years who she calls her soul mate, was almost more than she could bear , telling her two children Ashlynn, 13, and Logan, 8, was heartwrenching.

Toot Marthaler/The Beauty Of Life: "We told them that I was going to heaven, we weren't sure when - we didn't know how long."

And it was with her children in mind, Toot started preparing, completing picture books and writing each of them heartfelt letters for all of the important moments in their lives she would miss.

Toot Marthaler/The Beauty Of Life: "My children are young. I don't want them to forget me."

Sending her children love from heaven on their upcoming birthdays, confirmations, wedding days and when they have children of their own.

Toot Marthaler/The Beauty Of Life: "It was hard like for their wedding, like, who are you marrying? Who is this person? I don't know this person."

Known for her signature, infectious laugh, the letters would be Toot without a touch of her incredible sense of humor

Toot Marthaler/The Beauty Of Life: "One I wrote, if you go out tonight, if you're with your boyfriend, wear really tight jeans and high boots. And if you're not, wear sweatpants. And then I said in the next line, or maybe that's supposed to be switched around. I'm not sure.

And then the days I write to my kids or make something for them, I bawl on those days. The other days, I'm good. There's a no crying zone today."

And in the no crying zone, there is plenty of joking.

Toot Marthaler/The Beauty Of Life: "I'm so walking in with my hat on and go, I'm wondering if you could use the thinning shears today or just take a little off the top? What do you guys think? Because I really like this look."

She even found the joy in planning her own funeral, making it truly Toot. She'll wear the same wedding dress she wore just 3 years ago with her pink Nike shoes.

Toot Marthaler/The Beauty Of Life: "On the way out, we're singing "celebrate good times c'mon"! Nobody's going to be crying at that point."

She's proving it's how she's chosen to live and not how she'll die that make the difference. Celebrating each day, not wasting second chances and thanking God for all of their many blessings.

Toot Marthaler/The Beauty Of Life: "I'm one of the lucky ones who has dealt with that. Come to terms with that. So, all the time that I've spent now, I don't grieve, cause I'm wasting time. We've got some fun, kick butt stuff to do. Let's get it done."

Putting her faith in God, she has defied the diagnosis.

Toot Marthaler/The Beauty Of Life: "I couldn't walk, couldn't breathe, I could barely talk, I was coughing. And then from fargo, August 27th until now, I've just been getting better and better and better. So we're not sure what attributes to getting better. The chemotherapy? The Metformin?"

Scott Marthaler/Toot's Husband: "We've been told that this is not going to be a long term thing. That we can only do so many rounds of Adriamycin

and then her heart will give out. I don't know, that might be true, it might not. Because what I'm seeing is that miracles are possible and I'm kind of staring at one. I don't know. I'm not looking down the road. I'm just enjoying what we've got."

Toot Marthaler/The Beauty Of Life: "Ok, you've never said that before to me."

Even as she faces her biggest fear.

Toot Marthaler/The Beauty Of Life: "Leaving behind what I leave behind. Them."

Creating a rare moment where her smile fades, but just for a moment. Making a difference in the lives of all she meets with her strength and courage, inspiring prayer groups and gatherings, bringing people together.

Toot Marthaler/The Beauty Of Life: "And we believe that I have work to do. I have work that's not finished. Like all of the people's lives that I touch, I believe, I'm not done doing that yet."

You can read much more about Toot in Monday's Forum. And we'll continue to follow this amazing woman, and you can too. We've created a link to her caring bridge site on our website