Breast cancer has claimed former Miss Venezuela Eva Ekvall at the age of just 28.
The late beauty was a heroine in her nation, where she was crowned at 17 and went on to be third runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant in 2001. She was a model, actress and television anchor and authored the book "Fuera de Foco," of "Out of Focus," about her struggles with cancer. The cover showed her with a shaved head.
"I hate to see photos in which I come out ugly," Ekvall told El Nacional. "But you know what? Nobody ever said cancer is pretty or that I should look like Miss Venezuela when I have cancer."
Ekvall, who died in a Houston hospital, was born to a Jamaican mother and an American father of Swedish and Hungarian descent. But in a 2007 interview, she said "I feel more Venezuelan than anybody."
She was discovered working in a Caracas clothing store, where a talent scout for a modeling agency spied her.
"To me that was ridiculous,' she told the Guardian earlier this year. 'I thought I was overweight. I just couldn't be a model. But one day I got fired so I took a cab and went to the modeling agency. Once they saw me … they said they had the next Miss Venezuela right there."
Ekvall was married and had a two-year-old daughter.