Former Miss World contestant Sherika De Armas died last week at age 26 after battling cervical cancer for two years, according to local media reports.
De Armas represented Uruguay in the global pageant in 2015 when she was only 18 years old.
“Fly high, little sister. Always and forever,” De Armas's brother, Mayk De Armas, said in an emotional video on his Instagram Stories.
Anto Ciavaglia, a friend of De Armas wrote, “I remember you with that beautiful glow that you always transmitted.”
De Armas was one of only six 18-year-olds who competed that year in Sanya, China. She did not make it into the top 30 in the contest.
At the time, she told NetUruguay, “I always wanted to be a model, whether a beauty model, an advertising model or a catwalk model.”
“I like everything related to fashion and I think that within a beauty pageant, any girl’s dream is to have the opportunity to participate in Miss Universe,” she added. “I am very happy to be able to live this experience full of challenges.”
After competing, De Armas sold makeup, personal care, and hair products through the Shey De Armas Beauty Studio.
She also volunteered a lot of time with the childhood cancer organization Pérez Scremini Foundation, best known for its annual soccer Match Against Cancer.
De Armas was quite a bit younger than the average age for a cervical cancer diagnosis--around 50 years old.
Local media noted that 341,831 died from the cancer in 2020 worldwide.
Cervical cancer has few if any symptoms in the early stages, so most people don't know they have it unless they get regular screenings. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom, and in later stages there can be swelling of the legs or trouble urinating or having bowel movements.
The HPV vaccine is said to provide partial protection against some strains of cervical cancer, but is not required of everyone because it has a high rate of side effects compared to other vaccines.
De Armas was diagnosed with the cancer in 2021 and had several treatments to overcome it.