Jael Strauss, the America’s Next Top Model season 8 contestant who announced her cancer diagnosis in October and shared her short battle with the disease on Facebook, died this morning in Austin, Texas. She was 34.
A Go Fund Me page started by Strauss’ partner and friends last month to help defray her medical expenses confirmed her death this evening.
“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,” the page notes. “She will dance at how we celebrate her life by spreading the love that she lived by daily with a reckless abandon. We can honor her best by trying to #lovelikejael.
“In lieu of flowers , the family is requesting donations for funeral arrangements and extraordinary final medical expenses. All donations will go solely to these expenses. At the very least , please simply share this post and ask others to do the same so we can get it across the world. Thank you so much for all the love, support, & prayers through the journey.”
Strauss revealed her cancer diagnosis on her Facebook account Oct. 4, and then drew friends and followers along on her brief journey, with a candid and optimistic, though never unrealistic, spirit.
“I was gonna write some long thing but some of you guys deserve to know,” Strauss, who lived in Austin, Texas, posted on her Facebook account Oct. 4. “On October 2nd I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. It has aggressively spread throughout my body and is incurable. With treatment it may prolong my life longer than the ‘few months’ doctors said I could make it. I don’t want to die. I need another one of those miracles that I got back in 2013.”
The following day, Strauss, who had competed on America’s Next Top Model in 2007, wrote, “I just received the complete proper name of my disease: Stage IV metastatic inflammatory breast cancer.” She chose to stop her chemotherapy treatments later that month, and on Nov. 22 posted, “First night in hospice. So many things I never knew about life. Or death. So many things.”
The 2013 miracle to which Strauss referred was her sobriety: The year after a 2012 appearance on Dr. Phil, when her family staged an intervention over her crystal meth addiction, the former model entered recovery. This past August, she wrote, in part, on Facebook, “Today I have 5 years sober. Good God! I know a few things to be true: Miracles are real, Recovery is possible for everyone no matter how far gone you think you are, We are never too broken to be put back together, Service work feels better than the greatest high, Sobriety makes you weirder not normal and I’d be dead if it weren’t for all the love and forgiveness I’ve been showered with by my friends and family.
“Thank you to anyone that’s ever let me sponsor them. Thank you to my partner Cody Bear for showing me what real love is like. Thank you to all my beautiful family (blood and extended). Because of this gift I have no friends, only family. Love you all! Keep up the good fight.”
Strauss’ partner, Cody Haynes (she called him Cody Bear), set up a Go Fund Me account last month to help pay for medical expenses. The fund raised, as of today, more than $19,000 for her treatment.