BEIRUT: Michele Hajal, the runner-up in the Miss Lebanon 2016 competition, died Monday of cancer at the age of 25, having fought the disease for over a year.
The news was announced in a Facebook post by Hajal’s sister Paula, alongside a photo of the former beauty pageant finalist captioned, “Stay smiling up above,” and describing her as a “blessing.”
“You are lucky to have her, oh, Lord, but you took her too soon,” the post said.
Hajal’s fiance, Maroun Pierre Abi Atmeh, mourned the loss in an Instagram story: “I gained an angel,” he wrote.
Hajal was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in January 2018, at the age of 24. After treatment in Lebanon was unsuccessful, she and her family launched a campaign to raise some $750,000 for CAR-T cell therapy in the United States.
She traveled to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in the U.S. to receive the specialized treatment. She posted a positive message on Facebook in December, shortly after receiving the treatment, in which she said she had been “born again,” and was “cancer free.”
Hajal delivered inspirational speeches at events as late as March 2019. When exactly she relapsed is unclear.