Ex-Miss Venezuela Dies of Breast Cancer at Age 28

Tragic death leaves nation grieving

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.

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