NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In the United States, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

So this breast cancer awareness month, one model who dealt with the disease not once, but twice, is sharing her story to help others progress from patients to survivors.

Allyn Rose poses at Pier 88 on May 26, 2011, in New York City during her reign as Miss Maryland USA. She would go on to compete as Miss District of Columbia the following year. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

Model Allyn Rose has been touched by breast cancer in more ways than one.

“To lose a mother essentially by the age of 16, and then to realize it wasn’t just my mother, it was my grandmother, my great aunts. Almost every single woman in my family had lost their lives to breast cancer. I knew I had to be proactive,” Rose said.

She made the choice to get a preventative double mastectomy at just 26 years old.

“I really spent my entire life, even as an adolescent, with this looming cloud of cancer over my shoulder. It wasn’t a matter of when, and not if,” Rose said.

She says she never looked back, but she did think her modeling career was over.

That is until Sports Illustrated chose her for their swimsuit issue, making her the first woman with a double mastectomy to be featured.

“I always say it gave me my groove back to know that someday I would see a woman like me in the pages of a fashion magazine,” she said.

Now she’s sharing her story to inspire others to prioritize their breast health as well. Most recently, she joined forces with the AiRS Foundation, a nonprofit that provides women with access and resources to get breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy.

“Seven out of 10 women don’t know their reconstruction options. They don’t know they can get insurance for this,” she said.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Alexes Hazen also partnered with the nonprofit and she says many don’t know that reconstruction surgery must be covered health insurance, and more often than not, it goes hand-in-hand with a woman’s self-confidence.

“It can really launch you into your new life. You can move on and not be thinking about the fact that you had cancer once,” Dr. Hazen said.

Another little known fact: Many survivors who have had a mastectomy can get reconstruction surgery even after years have passed.

Education is the only way to find out.

Men often forget the importance of getting screened. Though it is rare, this year more than 2,000 men are expected to be diagnosed.

Dr. Hazen also emphasizes that transgender women should get checked.

Rose started a foundation to help women struggling with breast cancer. To find out more, click here.

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