American singer and model Joanne Borgella, dead at the age of 32 in October 2014 due to a rare form of endometrial cancer that had spread to her brain.
Born on May 29, 1982 in Uniondale, Long Island, New York, USA, at the age of 13 she attended Union School in Haiti where her father, Dr. Joel Borgella, ran for President in the 2006 presidential elections.
Her father is the founder of Radio Tropicale, the first international Haitian radio station.
Borgella went on to attend private school at the Academy of St. Joseph’s in Long Island for her last two years of high school and graduated in 2000.
Her mother’s name is Danielle Ford. She was “Miss F.A.T.” 2005, and the winner of Oxygen network’s number one show Mo’Nique’s Fat Chance season one.
Borgella was represented by Wilhelmina Models 10/20 division in New York and Miami. She had been the face of Torrid, Ashley Stewart, Wal-Mart and Kohls department store and appeared advertisements featured in Seventeen, Essence and InStyle, among others.
She was also one of the faces of Procter & Gamble a new campaign that many are calling a “movement” directed at the African American woman, “My Black is Beautiful”.
In October 2013, Borgella shared a video alerting her fans that she had been diagnosed with cancer.
Through a series of videos, Borgella continued to update those following her journey.
“It’s a rare case because it’s spread to my chest,” Borgella shared during her first video, “but it’s really not about a stage [of disease].
God is with me and I feel His presence every day. I just wanted to share this information with everyone to let them know what I’m going through and I’m going to update everyone every week as much as I can.”
The New York-born Haitian-American entertainer made it to the top 24 of “American Idol’s” seventh season, three years after appearing on “Mo’Nique’s Fat Chance,” a contest for plus-size models.
She went on to model professionally for brands such as Ashley Stewart, Macy’s and Nordstrom, and created her own jewellery and plus-size clothing line.
She also appeared on “Curvy Girls,” which airs on English-language Latino network NUVOtv.
Borgella went public with her throat cancer diagnosis last year in a YouTube video, telling fans that it had spread to her chest.
Since then she has documented her treatment on Facebook.