Allyn Rose, who will represent Washington, D.C. in the Miss America 2013 pageant, said she plans to undergo a pre-emptive double mastectomy after Saturday’s event.
Rose, 24, told the Associated Press she is removing both breasts as a preventative measure to reduce her chances of getting cancer, which took the lives of her mother, grandmother and great aunt.
"My mom would have given up every part of her body to be here for me, to watch me in the pageant," Rose said ahead of the competition in Las Vegas. "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."
Rose said her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and had one of her breasts removed in her 20’s; however, she waited to have the second breast removed until she was 47-years-old and it turned out to be too late.
"That's when they found she had a stage three tumor in her breast," Rose said. "And that's why for me, I'm not going to wait."
Rose said she has been thinking of undergoing the preventative procedure for the past three years. While she didn’t initially want to do it, Rose said that her father helped coax her into the surgery.
"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.'”
"Right now, I'm three years away," she said, measuring her own decision against her mother’s.
Rose said she plans to also have reconstruction surgery after the double mastectomy, but there is no guarantee she will maintain what an AP article called a “pageant-approved bust.”
While her decision to go public with the surgery has garnered tons of support from fans, Rose said she has also received criticism.
"You have people who say, 'Don't have the surgery. This is mutilating your body. You don't have cancer.' They want to pick apart every little thing," she said.
Some commenters have also said Rose was only coming forth with the news to bolster her chances as a favorite beauty pageant candidate; apparently, some have portrayed her as an “ice-queen,” the AP reported.
"You have to block out everything and I think sometimes that makes me appear a little cold," she said. "But it's because I had to be my own mentor, I had to be my own best friend."
Rose said that whether or not she is crowned Miss America 2013, she was glad to share her health choice to help spread awareness on breast cancer prevention.
"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."