Md. woman first to be featured in Sports Illustrated after receiving double mastectomy

MARYLAND - A Charles County native and former Miss District of Columbia winner is making history in Sports Illustrated's search for its next swimsuit models.

Allyn Rose, who also competed in Miss USA and Miss America, is the first woman to be featured in Sports Illustrated on any medium after undergoing a preventative double mastectomy.

"I just was thinking about other people like me, maybe not going through the same struggle, but who have their own battles and demons themselves, seeing me and the other 16 women that they picked, and saying, 'hey, that represents me too,'" she says.

Allyn did a Skype interview with DCW50 from Germany, where she is currently living part-time.

Her mother was first diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 27 and had one breast removed.

Allyn says the cancer came back when she was only 12-years-old.

"My dad had begged my mother for years, get rid of the other breast, it's a ticking time bomb," says Allyn. "My mom just wouldn’t do it, and I think she wouldn’t do it because it felt a bit like the last part of her femininity that she could hold onto."

Four years later, Allyn's mother passed away from the disease, as did almost every woman on her mother's side of the family.

"All of those wonderful moments, getting my driver’s license, graduating from high school, meeting my future spouse, competing at Miss USA, Miss America I had to do all of those without my mom," says Allyn. "And I didn’t want that to be me."

She says her father was the first one to bring up the conversation of having a preventative double mastectomy.

"He was very aggressive with me, he sat me down and looked me straight into my eyes, and he said, 'You’re going to end up dead like your mom.'"

Allyn says a few years later, as she got closer to the age her mother was first diagnosed, she realized her father was only trying to keep her alive.

At age 27, Allyn underwent a preventative double mastectomy, followed by reconstruction surgery. In total, she says she had to go through three surgeries which resulted in seven scars. 

She says the physical pain was hard, but nothing prepared her for what she would go through emotionally.

"I struggled for a very long time not liking who I was anymore," she says. "I really thought my pageant days, my modeling days were over."

Allyn says she moved with her now-husband to Germany to start over.

She eventually was laid off from her new job, but saw an advertisement about Sports Illustrated's swimsuit model search.

"With a hope and a prayer I thought, probably not me, but maybe," she says.

Days after submitting her entry, Allyn says she got an e-mail that she made it through the first round.

Out of more than 7,000 entires, she made it to the top 16 and got to walk on the runway for Miami Swim Week.

"I just couldn’t believe it, I burst into tears, I broke out into hives," she says. "What’s nice sometimes is to see real life, what I’ve done is real life, it’s living, it’s painful, it’s ugly, it’s not what you would consider the path to Sports Illustrated and they’re saying that’s OK."

Rose says she does not know what the next step will be or if it will result in her landing a spot in the next Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

One thing is for sure--she saved her own live.

Now she's hoping her story will inspire others to have faith in themselves, take chances, and take action for their help if their situation warrants it.

"I did this for me, I did it for my family, my spouse, my future children," she says.

"And I haven’t looked back."