America's Next Top Model season 8 contestant Jael Strauss didn't win, but she became one of the most beloved aspiring models to compete on the show.
Strauss, who was 22 at the time, candidly discussed her tumultuous childhood in Detriot, Michigan, and revealed that she wanted the modeling contract so she could get a big break she needed to become successful.
Sadly, when her run on the popular show came to an end, Strauss's life took a turn for the worse. She started using drugs, including cocaine, oxycontin, vicodin, and meth, and got caught up in a cycle of addiction that forced her out into the streets.
Her family, including parents Lisa and Larry, were able to eventually track her down at a motel in a unnamed city, where she worked as a dancer at a strip club. They enlisted the help of Dr. Phil and staged a very public intervention.
They managed to convince to Strauss fly to Los Angeles to appear on the show, but she refused to take part in the intervention.
"First of all, I was interventioned, meaning I did not have a choice," said Strauss, who was noticeably thinner, had damaged teeth and skin, explained in an interview with Toofab.com. "I do feel that The Dr. Phil Show exploited me and has done that to other people and their addictions."
It didn't happen overnight, but Strauss eventually agreed to enter rehab and has remained clean ever since.
Strauss, who said she's "the happiest I've ever been in my entire life," moved to Texas, started a new relationship and has been working at a rehab center in Austin.
Over the last few years, she's been using social media to update her fans about her drug-free life.
"This journey was very unexpected," Strauss said. "I've been sober for 3 years and 3 months now. 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."
Unfortunately, Strauss has recently been dealt with another bad hand, and she's desperately looking for "another one of those miracle that I got back in 2013."
The former model revealed on Facebook that she was diagnosed with Stage 4 rapidly progressive metastatic inflammatory breast cancer on October 2.
"I was gonna write some long thing but some of you guys deserve to know,” Strauss, now 34, wrote. "On October 2nd I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. It has aggressively spread throughout my body and is incurable."
While the doctors only gave her a "few months" to live, Strauss explained that treatment, including chemotherapy, could prolong her life longer.
"I don’t want to die," she added.
To help Strauss with the high medical costs, her friends have set up a GoFundMe page on her behalf. A note on the fundraiser page confirmed that Strauss has started chemotherapy, but they "do not know how things will play out."
"What we do know is that Jael is putting all of her energy and drive into fighting this insidious disease and can use as much support and love as possible. Jael is in tremendous pain right now and is unable to work. In a month, she will be let go from her job and lose her health insurance. I’m sure everyone understands how expensive cancer treatment is, and the last thing we want Jael to focus on right now is whether or not she will be able to afford her rent, her treatment, and other expenses."
Strauss is the second person from America's Next Top Model to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Former judge Janice Dickenson fought cancer in 2016 and had to undergo two lumpectomies as well as two months of radiation.