Highway Diamond Spotlight: Marilyn Cortese


Q: How long have you been driving with Prime?

A: I started driving at night for Prime back in 1997 and I drove team with my husband, Michael.  Then, I drove solo for 2 years. After that, I wanted to get off the road for a couple of months just to take a vacation. Long story short, I found out that my mother had cancer and I had to stay home to take care of her. My husband got a local job because he didn’t want to be out on the road without me. I ended up going back to college and getting a lab degree and worked as a Lab Tech. After a few years, we came back to Prime.

Q: How did you get into trucking?

A: I had a friend that drove for a small mom and pop trucking company in Dallas, Texas. I was looking at his check stubs and saw how much he made. I thought, “I want to do this!”  But back in those days there weren’t a lot of female truck drivers. I asked my friend if I could drive a truck. He challenged me and told me I couldn’t do it. I am not one to back down from a challenge. Three or four months after, I was driving a big truck.

Q: What has it been like to team with your husband?

A: It can be a little challenging at times. You can’t go off into the other room when you’re mad. You must learn deal with one another’s idiosyncrasies. But I must say, I wouldn’t trust anyone else’s driving while I’m asleep in the bunk.

Q: How instrumental has your fleet manager been in this whole process of teaming?

A: Chance has been awesome since day one in 1997. When we came back in 2018, the first thing we did was see if we could get back on his board. He has been awesome through everything! If anything family related came up, Chance immediately asked if we needed a plane ticket to get home. His attitude has always been “what can I do for you?” When I found out that I had breast cancer and needed surgery, he asked “what can I do?”.

Q: October is breast cancer awareness month. Can you tell us how you found out you had breast cancer?

A: In 2020 I had a new doctor that was assigned by the hospital. When I went for the meet and greet, he was going through my charts and said “wait a minute. I don’t see where you’ve had a mammogram in two years.” He had me go downstairs and get it done. A few weeks later, I received a call from the doctor’s nurse telling me to come back because they found a lump and I was going to need surgery. I remember telling her “I don’t have time for this mess!” Her response was “yes you do.” I called my fleet manager Chance and told him what was going on and he routed us back to the house. I had the procedure and had to take a month off work. The healing from that surgery wasn’t bad at all. At the time they caught it, I was stage one. I was told that if I would have waited another six months, I would’ve been at stage three.

I went back out on the road thinking everything was peaches and cream. Suddenly, the phone rang. I was told that I needed to return to Fairfield. The doctor had done a biopsy on the lump, and they thought that there were cancer cells still in my breast and I would need a second surgery. This time they took lymph nodes from underneath my arm. This surgery took longer to heal from so my husband went out and ran solo without me. I finally healed from it.  My fleet manager Chance checked on me regularly to make sure I was okay.

Q: Did you have any signs of cancer?

A: No, it was a nodule. It was a tiny one-centimeter nodule that was way in the back on my breastbone. I had no indication whatsoever that I had cancer. I would have never known if Dr. Jenks didn’t make me have that mammogram.  That is why I really wanted to tell my story.


Q: What advice would you give to a woman who’s afraid to get a mammogram?

A: It is so important that you don’t rely on the palpating breast exams. The mammogram is such a simple procedure. You walk in there and in 15 minutes you’re done. Look at my story. If I wouldn’t have had that mammogram, I would have never known about my cancer until it was too late. Do the mammograms and be aware.




Marilyn, thank you so much for sharing your incredible story.

Interviewed by: Dee Sova

driver Recruiting
wORK iN hOUSE/hr
truck/trailer Sales
refrigerated division sales
Tanker Division Sales
INTERMODAL division Sales
Success Leasing
Safety dept
Company Store