Breast Cancer: It's Not Just Hereditary

I have received a few questions about my platform... what I intend to accomplish with it during my year of service and how I plan to continue with it after my year has ended. I also feel it is important as a titleholder to promote how a crown and sash can be used to make a dramatic difference nationwide. Therefore, today's post is dedicated to my platform, "Breast Cancer: It's Not Just Hereditary"- why I chose it, what I have achieved, and my efforts looking forward.
My life changed forever on March 2, 2003.  I transitioned from being a carefree teenager to becoming a caregiver for my mother, who was the first woman in our family diagnosed with breast cancer.  Terror, rage, sadness and above all, a feeling of complete and utter helplessness invaded me.  Why was this happening to Mom, of all people?  What had she ever done to deserve to be so sick and so frightened?  Yet, she refused to be conquered by her circumstance, and it was her determination that inspired me to champion this cause.  I discovered that out of the 250,000 newly-diagnosed American women with breast cancer each year, half of them had no identifiable risk factor.  Even more shocking was the knowledge that damaged cancer susceptibility genes can be inherited, and passed on, by men just as easily as women.  I began to look at breast cancer in a completely different way; what I once misperceived as a genetic ailment was now attacking victims at random.  Recognizing the need to disseminate this information, I vowed to educate others that breast cancer is an impartial killer.

For two years I joined forces with the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation to successfully lobby the Virginia General Assembly to increase funding for breast cancer research.  As a member of the foundation’s Hampton Roads Chapter, I communicated the importance of comprehensive cancer care with a focus on quality of life, as well as strategies for active community involvement and mobilization.  Currently, I serve as the Media Representative for Strut the Runway for Breast Cancer, Inc. as well as a Board member of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life Chesapeake, holding the position of Webmaster. My efforts, however, have surpassed my assigned capacity as I have worked diligently with other Board members to provide a comfortable environment for those involved with Relay for Life and move steps closer towards a cancer cure.

In an effort to recognize and honor breast cancer survivor's unlimited faith, determination and perseverance, in October 2008 I organized the inaugural 'Queen of PINK' (Passionately Igniting the Need for Knowledge) Pageant showcasing each breast cancer survivor/fighter contestant's significant contributions to cancer awareness in her community.  All proceeds benefited the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation, and I'm proud that together we raised over $3,000 for this life-affirming organization.  I continually strive to develop outreach, awareness and fundraising initiatives with the dedication, commitment and support of corporate partners.  The partnerships with these companies provide an opportunity for individuals to join in the fight against breast cancer and help spread the message of early detection to millions of Americans.  

My devotion to increasing the quality of life through education and awareness is the link between my personal platform and Miss United States’ platform “No Phone Zone”. As Miss United States, I will utilize this unifying factor to promote both issues, serving in the name of public health and education.  

By aiding the nation, I will not only have the privilege to touch the lives of others, but will grow as a young woman.  By promoting my personal platform, I have altered my own lifestyle to reduce the risk of contracting breast cancer because I want to be the catalyst for a cure.  I'm dedicated to setting new standards for creative collaboration in the fight against breast cancer.  My involvement in service is a part of who I am, and will continue long after my year of service as Miss United States.  My mission is to be an activist—one person, one community, one state, one nation at a time— to try and solve the number one health concern of women.