Jael Strauss, who appeared in season 8 of America's Next Top Model, has died aged 34. She announced her stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis just two months ago.
TMZ reports the model and reality star passed away in a hospice on Tuesday (December 4) after having been unconscious for a few days.
A statement on a GoFundMe page set up to raise money to help pay for Jael's treatment reads: "Today we lost our earth angel and she is back in the spirit world from which she came and we know she will be watching over all of us.
"She will dance at how we celebrate her life by spreading the love that she lived by daily with a reckless abandon. We can honour her best by trying to #lovelikejael."
Tyra Banks, who fronts the long-running series America's Next Top Model, took to Twitter yesterday to pay tribute to Jael after hearing the sad news.
"Top Model has lost a beautiful soul," she wrote. "We will all remember Jael and her fun-loving spirit and beautiful soul."
Top Model has lost a beautiful soul. We will all remember Jael and her fun-loving spirit and beautiful soul.- Tyra Banks (@tyrabanks) December 5, 2018
In October, Jael revealed she was going through her second round of chemotherapy in a bid to eradicate the cancer. "The misery is indescribable," she wrote on Facebook, describing the treatment. "But I’m fighting, to live another day and ain’t nothing gonna get in my way."
But around Halloween, Jael decided to cease treatment and shortly afterwards moved into a hospice, where she lived out her final weeks. On her first night in the hospice, the former model wrote on social media: "So many things I never knew about life. Or death. So many things."
Jael was described by those who loved her as "one of the most compassionate, generous, and kind-hearted beings in the universe."
But as it mentions in her GoFundMe page, Jael was also "dealt a tough hand" in life. Following her appearance on Tyra Banks' modelling show in 2007, Jael fell into a cycle of drug taking that led her to become addicted to meth and eventually to become homeless. In 2015, things got so bad that her family reached out to TV doctor, Dr. Phil for help.
Eventually, Jael managed to turn her life around, and in 2017 she spoke of how happy she was being drug-free and helping others in her work at a rehab centre.
"I've been sober for 3 years and 3 months now," she said at the time of the interview with Too Fab. "Not a drink, not a pill, not a joint, not a line, nothing. It's really amazing. It's a huge miracle to still be breathing after what I was up to and I'm so grateful. Whatever path and twists and turns I had to take to get here, I don't regret any of them."
Tragically, in September this year, Jael began feeling unwell. When doctors investigated, it was discovered she had an aggressive form of breast cancer, which had spread beyond the breast tissue.
Ever the fighter, in one Instagram post shortly after her diagnosis, Jael wrote: "My cancer can't grow as fast as my LOVE."
Our thoughts are with Jael's family at this very sad time.
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