“If there’s something that I can do to be proactive, it might hurt my body, it might hurt my physical beauty, but I’m going to be alive.”
On Saturday, Jan. 12, the 24-year-old Miss District of Columbia 2012 winner will compete with 52 other women for the coveted Miss America Crown at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
Miss America contestant Allyn Rose was raised in a 200-year-old home her parents renovated, located in Newburg, Md. (“My whole childhood was learning how to patch drywall and insulate the crawl space.”) Her mother, Judy, an architect, worked for the Charles County government and started a firm that her father, David, still runs, according to Reliable Source.
If crowned, the southern Maryland native will become the first Miss America to undergo a double mastectomy.
“My mom would have given up every part of her body to be here for me, to watch me in the pageant,” Miss D.C. said between dress rehearsals.
The aspiring lawyer said it was her father who first broached the subject, during her freshman year of college, two years after the death of her mother.
“I said, `Dad I’m not going to do that. I like the body I have.’ He got serious and said, `Well then you’re going to end up dead like your mom.’ ”
She has pondered that conversation for the past three years, during which she has worked as a model and won several pageants, including Miss Maryland USA, Miss Sinergy and the Miss District of Columbia competition, which put her in the running for tonight’s competition.
The La Plata High School graduate measures her age by the time of her mother, Judy‘s, first diagnosis, at age 27. Judith Rose had one breast removed, recovered and went on to finish her graduate work, married and had children.
“Right now, I’m three years away,” Allyn said.
Judy waited until she was 47 to remove the other breast, which Allyn‘s father had called a ticking time bomb. “That’s when they found she had a stage three tumor in her breast,” Allyn said. She died in 2004 at the age of 50. “And that’s why for me, I’m not going to wait.”
She plans to have reconstructive surgery, but said the procedure has complications and there is no guarantee that she will regain her pageant-approved bust.
Miss America CEO Art McMaster has said Rose is “an incredible example” of strength and courage. The beauty queen receives hate mail from beauty circuit die-hards who criticized her for “mutilating” her body or using the surgery to curry favor with the media and the public.
Blood work has found that Allyn’s a carrier for Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, a rare disease that killed her mother, grandmother and great aunt.
“All the women in my family passed away from breast cancer,” Rose said. “When I met with a surgeon, he said, ‘You’re young, but there are other people I know who are having [mastectomies] who have the same family history.” Yes, she plans to have reconstructive surgery. “There’s no reason not to, especially with all the medical advances.”
Her brother, Dane Rose, 31, who works for an oncology association, said he sees the irony in a beauty queen choosing to give up her breasts but supports his sister’s choice.
“For me what trumps everything is her living, hopefully to a ripe old age, as opposed to any ancillary things that she might lose from potentially winning Miss America.”
University of Maryland, College Park politics major initially said that if she won the crown, she would postpone her surgery until after her year as a title-holder. But while shopping for earrings to match her black velvet pageant gown Wednesday, she said she was now considering having the surgery during her reign as a way of inscribing her platform of breast cancer prevention on her body.
“I’ve been thinking how powerful that might be to have a Miss America say, `I might be Miss America but I’m still going to have surgery. I’m going to take control of my own life, my own health care,’ ” she said. “So I guess it’s up to what happens on Saturday night.”
“If there’s one 16-year-old girl who doesn’t have to live her life having lost her mom,” she said, “then I’ve won.”
The Wynn sports book gives her 25 to one odds of winning the Miss America Crown, making her a moderate favorite.