Eva Ekvall was many things in her short life—a mother, an actress, a TV news anchor and, at the age of 17, Miss Venezuela. But she will be best remembered for her fight against breast cancer, which raised awareness of the disease among thousands of ordinary Venezuelans. Ekvall, who died in a Houston hospital over the weekend at the age of 28, became an advocate for a cancer charity after her diagnosis last year—and authored a book about her struggle, which included images of her undergoing chemotherapy, bald and without makeup, reports AP.
"I hate to see photos in which I come out ugly," Ekvall said. "But you know what? Nobody ever said cancer is pretty or that I should look like Miss Venezuela when I have cancer." Ekvall, the daughter of an American father and a Jamaican mother, leaves behind a husband and a 2-year-old daughter. Health workers credit her efforts with an increase in the number of women going for breast examinations. She demonstrated "extraordinary calm and courage in her fight against cancer," said writer Leonardo Padron, one of many prominent Venezuelans who offered their condolences. (Read more breast cancer stories.)