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 competes in her swimwear during the Miss Universe 2001 Presentation Show at the Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum in Bayamon, Puerto Rico on May 6, 2001. (Photo: Reuters)

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.)