September 30, 2021 4 min read
By the time she was 16, Allyn Rose lost her mother, grandmother, and great aunt to breast cancer. Faced with the likelihood of experiencing a similar fate, she took control of her breast health and had a prophylactic double mastectomy at age 26. Her foundation, The Previvor, serves as a women's health platform to educate women on genetic testing, mastectomy, and breast reconstruction options. She's also an advocate for all women to practice self-care through monthly breast self-exams. #SelfExamGram
Allyn Rose owns the crown by finding the power within to accomplish her goals. “You just need to have the courage to be bold and chase your dreams,” she says.
Read on to hear her remarkable story, in her own words…
When my mother lost her life to a second bout with breast cancer, all I could think about were the moments she would miss. She'd never see me get my driver's license, go to prom, graduate from college, get married, or have children. My heart ached for her. My heart ached for myself. At that moment, I said to myself – "I'm not going to give up, and cancer is not going to win." I made a silent promise to my mother: to make use of every day that she didn't have.
My story is one of long-term perspective. I thought, someday I'll be married and will have children. I'm making the decision [to have a prophylactic double mastectomy] so that I'm alive for them. I had the surgery and I moved on with my life. I got married, my husband and I underwent IVF to ensure my gene [linked to cancer] was not passed down. I got pregnant with my little girl, and she was born in April 2021.
It's given me a sense of peace and pride that I did this. I look at my daughter, and I say, "I did this for you." I know my daughter will not be a 16-year-old spending the rest of her life without her mom like I was.
I hope that my story inspires women to know that there is the possibility for light at the end of the tunnel. I've got a happy, healthy baby, and I'm a happy, healthy mom. That's what's important at the end of the day.
I am a Previvor — an individual who takes the necessary steps to "survive a predisposition" to cancer.
In 2015, when I had my surgery, there wasn't information on the Internet for young women. What you did find catered to women in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. There are 22-year-old women diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and young women who find out they carry a gene mutation that could increase their risk of breast or ovarian cancer by upwards of 80%.
These women are faced with really hard decisions: Do I have my ovaries removed? Do I have my breasts removed? What if I want to have kids someday? It feels like someone puts a ticking time bomb in your lap, and you have to make decisions very quickly.
I wanted to create The Previvor as a safe space for women to learn what they can do and where they can go from diagnosis or discovery. And to see women who have gone through it and come out on the other side ok.
The great thing about SHEFIT is that it's your friend along the way. It is something that's going to be with you throughout the journey. It will change along with you: getting ready for your surgery when you're building your strength; coming home from the hospital as a supportive, surgical garment; once you've recovered and want to get back into fitness; if you've gained the covid 15; during pregnancy; if you decide to breastfeed. It's a product that comes along with you and doesn't hold you back.
Owning the Crown for me is realizing the power to accomplish your dreams is within yourself. You just need to have the courage to be bold and chase your dreams.
I was the person nobody wanted to sit next to at lunch. When I got to college, I was still that quirky kid. I joined a sorority, and this community of women gave me the courage to chase my dreams and pursue things I thought were out of reach.
I competed in a charity pageant and I won. I went to Miss Maryland and won. I competed in Miss USA and made the finals. The next year, I competed at Miss America. These were hugely transformational moments in my life, going from somebody who was sitting on the sidelines of life, thinking I could never be that girl, to saying, this is something I can do and the only person getting in my way is me. Owning the crown is being able to move forward in your life by being bold and taking opportunities as they come.
That that little voice in your head is very likely the only thing that’s stopping you from accomplishing your dreams. I never thought that at 21, I would be somebody who competed in Miss USA and Miss America, who had modeled for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, who had a mastectomy, who married her prince charming, and who has a precious baby girl. All of these things -- these dreams -- were achievable because I stepped out of my way.
It's so easy to put your self-care on the back burner. We're busy and focused on career, spouses, children, and fur children. Our health, happiness, and well-being take a back seat. Take 3-to-5 minutes for yourself for a breast self-exam every month in the shower, in bed, or when you're binging to "The Crown" to save your own life. Encourage your friends to do that same thing. You could save them too.