A Miss America contestant is taking charge of her health by choosing to undergo a double mastectomy. Breast cancer killed three women in her family--including her mother.
Miss D.C. Allyn Rose will compete this weekend for the title of Miss America. If she wins, her platform will be breast cancer prevention, which the 24-year-old will kick off by undergoing a double mastectomy.
"Choosing life over vanity. Choosing life over what society or Hollywood tells me makes me beautiful," Rose said.
When Rose was 16, her mother died of breast cancer. Before that, the disease killed her grandmother and great aunt.
"To know I'm going to walk across that Miss America stage and not have my mom there. It's really fueled the fire within me that it's not a life that I ever want my children to live," Rose said.
Dr. Abel Galaviz of The Breast Center at St. David's Medical Center says in recent years he's seen an increase in healthy women opting to get the surgery.
"Some people just can't function. It alters their daily living. All they do it think about this," Galaviz said. "Is there a need for it? I don't think there is, but I think there is fear and anxiety associated with it."
Before going to the operating room, Galaviz asks that his patients get a second opinion from a primary care doctor, another surgeon or psychologist to make sure cancer is the cause of their anxiety. He also runs tests to see if his patients carry the particular breast cancer gene.
Miss D.C. says she is a carrier of a rare genetic mutation that puts her at risk.
"I admire her for being proactive. Is it the right or wrong thing? It's her thing," Galaviz said.
Galaviz says he is thankful she is addressing the issue.
"We'll probably have an increase in the number of people coming by here, which is good. It's awareness," he said.
"I think I've been given this incredible opportunity to save the lives of other women and by having this message of my mom. Being able to show women if I can do it, you can do it," Rose said.
Although it appears we are hearing more about celebrities getting mastectomies, Doctor Galaviz says less than 10 percent of his breast cancer patients need the surgery. He says it's not necessary anymore. There are medications, radiation and hormones now to treat cancer effectively.
Galaviz says if you are concerned about your risk, get the breast cancer analysis test and ask your doctor about an MRI. The MRI gives doctors a better view of any abnormalities in young women.