Former Miss Venezuela Eva Ekvall, who had been battling breast cancer, died Saturday at the age of 28 in a Houston, Texas hospital, according to reports.
Ekvall was crowned Miss Venezuela at age 17 in 2000, and the following year she was third runner-up in the Puerto Rico Miss Universe pageant. She went on to work as a model, actress and television news anchor.
The Associated Press reported that Ekvall also wrote a book called Fuera de Foco (Out of Focus) about her cancer struggles. She told El Nacional in an interview last year after the book was published that I needed to send the message of the need for cancer prevention.
What was most defining of the cancer struggles Ekvall sought to convey was a portrait on the book's cover in which she appeared with makeup and a shaved head and images of Ekvall inside of the book of her going through chemotherapy.
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's family said in a statement Sunday that her body would be cremated in Houston on Monday and that a service will be held in Venezuela once her remains are returned there.
Ekvall leaves behind her husband, radio producer John Fabio Bermudez, and her two-year-old daughter Miranda.
Her death brought an outpouring of Twitter condolences from native Venezuelans, including some from prominent artists and politicians.
A drawing posted on Twitter depicted Ekvall as an angel with white wings and a pink ribbon on her chest.
Bermudez posted a Twitter photo on Sunday showing a close-up of his hand holding Ekvall's hand resting on a bed with the words Siempre juntos...te amo esposa. (Always together ... I love you wife.)