"Top Model" Alum Jael Strauss Promoted Sobriety Before Cancer Death

By Kelly Burch 12/10/18

Jael Strauss, an advocate for recovery and sobriety, passed away from breast cancer earlier this month.

Top Model alum Jael Strauss was vocal about her sobriety.
Photo via YouTube

Former America’s Next Top Model contestant Jael Strauss, who had been candid about her recovery from meth addiction and her sobriety, died on Tuesday, nearly two months after she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. 

On Oct. 4, Strauss announced her diagnosis in a Facebook post

“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,” she wrote. “I don’t want to die. I need another one of those miracles that I got back in 2013.”

The 2013 miracle was her recovery from meth addiction. In August she posted on Instagram celebrating five years of sobriety.

“Today I have 5 years sober,” she wrote. “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.”

After getting sober, Strauss dove into supporting other people in recovery, volunteering with the Solstice Recovery Foundation in Texas, according to TMZ. She often organized fundraisers for people who could not afford treatment, an effort that was returned this fall when people from her recovery community organized a fundraiser to help Strauss cover the cost of her treatments. 

Strauss appeared on America’s Next Top Model in 2007. Following her stint on the show, she became addicted to meth. In 2012, she appeared on The Dr. Phil Show as part of an intervention, which she later said was exploitative

“First of all, I was interventioned, meaning I did not have a choice. I do feel that The Dr. Phil Show exploited me and has done that to other people and their addictions,” she said in 2016. However, she said the silver lining was that her appearance on the show might have helped other people who were grappling with addiction. 

“I have an inner conflict, because I know that my story has helped so many people. The number one important thing in my life is to help other people, so I wouldn’t change that, but it was not voluntary,” she said. 

At the time, Strauss said she had found a lot of joy in sobriety. 

“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life,” she said. “This journey was very unexpected. I’ve been sober for three years and three 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.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.