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Miss USA contestant Allyn Rose announced she is undergoing a double mastectomy, even though she does not have cancer.
The 24-year-old Maryland native lost her mother to breast cancer when she was 16, and was recently diagnosed with the same genetic mutation that predisposes women in her family to get early breast cancer.
"The idea that I could wake up one day and not have the same body that I did the day before is very scary," she told People. "But I also realize my mom was diagnosed at 27. That's three years away from me. I'm not going to let my fear of losing this part of my femininity stop me from living."
Rose is scheduled to represent Washington, D.C. in the 2013 Miss USA pageant. She said should she win, she will wait until 2014 to have the procedure. Should she lose, she said she will have the double mastectomy immediately following the competition.
"Your skin may be damaged in a way that you will lose your nipple, or sometimes women lose all of their breast tissue," she said of the procedure. "[But] breasts don't define your life. I'm choosing life over beauty. I'm choosing to remove something that's so iconic to my womanhood."