BY JACLYN ROSE –
Born and raised in Mena, Amber Brewer is a 23 year old woman with a passion and a platform. Like many ladies across the United States, Brewer began frequenting the tanning bed while in the 8th grade. The seemingly harmless habit proved itself very dangerous when Brewer found a suspicious mole on her thigh last summer. The mole was removed and tested and the results came back with Melanoma, the rarest yet deadliest form of skin cancer. Brewer then endured another surgery by a plastic surgeon and after further medical testing it was discovered that the Melanoma was caught fast enough and fortunately had not spread.
This experience ended positively and has led Brewer to a passionate new platform: Melanoma awareness. She now travels to speak at schools and organizations to raise understanding of the dangers of tanning and skin cancer. “One in five people will have skin cancer in their lifetime and one in 50 will have Melanoma. The chances increase by 20% with just one tanning bed use and then they increase by 2% with every use after that. The risk consistently goes up,” explained Brewer. She asks people to remember the 5 S’s while in the sun: 1. Slip on a cover – preferably something with UV blockage. 2. Slap on a wide brimmed hat. 3. Slop on sunscreen – at least SPF 30 and with broad spectrum. 4. Slide on sunglasses. 5. Seek shade when you can.
Brewer, who is no stranger to the pageant scene, with titles such as: Miss Polk County Fair Queen 2008, Miss Faulkner County Fair Queen 2011, Miss Arkansas USA Ambassador 2012, Miss Faulkner County International 2013, and Miss Polk County International 2014, she was also 2nd runner up in Miss Arkansas International 2013 and will compete again in Miss Arkansas International in April, 2014. She is also in Miss Arkansas USA Top 12 in 2013 and Top 10 2014, has combined both her passion for Melanoma awareness with her passion for pageantry. “I started competing in pageants when I was young until I was 6; at that point sports took over. I did not compete again until Miss Polk County Fair Queen my senior year of high school and then I continued through college. I believe competing in pageants is good for building confidence. It has helped me to not be bashful or have a fear of being on stage and talking. It also assisted me in giving presentations in college and in being a leader in the various organizations I was involved in,” explained Brewer.
Brewer started a team for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, The Glow Worms, and has planned a benefit pageant to be held at The Crossing Center on March 8th. All proceeds from the pageant will be donated to the American Cancer Society. “There will be seven different categories, from little girls all the way up to married women. The cost is $35 and interested ladies can contact me at email@example.com or by calling me at 479.243.5083. The 7 ladies who win will assist me in spreading Melanoma awareness at different community events over the next year,” Brewer explained.
Brewer’s younger sister, Holly, has also become involved in the fight again skin cancer by starting a traveling spray tan business, BOLD Body Bronzing Arkansas. She will be running a Prom Special and can be found on Facebook or by calling 479.243.3573.
Besides pageantry and educating on the dangers of Melanoma, Brewer, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the University of Central Arkansas, is also in the process of starting a clothing boutique, The Fair Lady. The store will be online in the near future with her brick and mortar store eventually going up in Northwest Arkansas.
“I loved growing up in Polk County. The small town helped me to be a better person. Seeing how a small community helps each other caused me to want to stay involved even after leaving for college,” said Brewer.