02:38 AM EDT 07/06/2014

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Miss USA Pageant

Credit: Darren Decker/Miss USA 2013
Miss USA Contestant Gabrielle Neilan Winning Battle Against Thyroid Cancer

Miss USA Contestant Gabrielle Neilan Winning Battle Against Thyroid Cancer

Originally posted 06/13/2013 01:25PM

In a world where imperfections stick out like sore thumbs, Gabrielle Neilan isn't hiding hers. In fact, she's embracing the subtle scar on her neck.

"It's my strength," she says, before joking, "You can hardly notice it. It's like a fat roll on my neck."

The fact that Neilan, 22, can be so humorous about it is refreshing. It's also shocking, considering she is one of 51 women competing in Las Vegas this weekend in the Miss USA pageant.

Besting the other women is a tall task, of course, but the brunette beauty has been through worse. It wasn't long ago her Miss Oregon USA sash was replaced with a hospital gown and her stage was replaced with an operating table.

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Filed Under: Miss USA Pageant
Credit: Darren Decker/Miss Universe Organization
Miss USA Pageant Kicks Off in Vegas – Vote for Your Favorite

Miss USA Pageant Kicks Off in Vegas – Vote for Your Favorite

Originally posted 06/12/2013 04:00PM

The Miss USA pageant isn't until Sunday night, but the preliminary competition is already in full swing in Las Vegas.

Fifty-one hopefuls – representing their respective states and Washington, D.C. – have converged on the fabled Strip to be vetted by a panel of judges (including yours truly!) tasked with narrowing the field.

The prelims involve interviews as well as swimsuit and evening gown evaluations, all to help determine 15 semifinalists (including one voted in by fans) to be announced during the primetime telecast on Sunday, June 16.

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Filed Under: Miss USA Pageant

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