Former Miss Malawi Blandina Khondowe, who bravely fought cancer for so many years, is being remembered by Malawians as a fearless fighter for justice and better treatment and care for cancer patients, after she died on Saturday as confirmed by her family.
Blandina, who had won the Miss Malawi crown in 2002, was pronounced dead at Spring Valley Private Hospital in Area 10 in Lilongwe.
A civil servant, the former beauty queen, was rushed to the hospital after she reportedly collapsed at home.
Blandina, born in 1980, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, which she later overcame only to be diagnosed again in 2017.
Following her diagnosis and later survival, she became a passionate breast cancer advocate through the two initiatives she founded - Think Pink Malawi (in 2013) and later, Hope for Cancer Foundation (in 2015).
Meanwhile, social media has been flooded with tributes from many Malawians including celebrities and commentators.
Former Malawi representative to Big Brother Africa, Fatima Nkata chose her tribute of Blandina as " a true personification of strength, grace, beauty, love, faith, favour and resilience."
Nkata, who posted photos of Blandina, said her death is a " great loss" to Malawi.
Journalist Bright Sonani recalled writing the story about Blandina winning the beauty crown expressed shuck with her death.
"The year was 2002 when she had just been crowned Miss Malawi. I was then an entertainment reporter for Malawi News under the tutelage of late Mackson Kazombo. Our quest then at Malawi News was to have a different side of any story. And on this one we wanted a different side of the Miss Malawi and the life of this college girl who had just been crowned the new queen.
"In our efforts, apart from one-on-one interview, we thought of exploring her college life. I spent almost the entire day following her on campus up to her room. An affable woman always joyful and full of life, she literary let me into her private space for that story, taking me through her everyday college life. And that was the beginning of a long journey. Whenever we met there were always new things to share and she always had new ideas up her sleeves," he wrote.
Sonani stated that Blandina was born a fighter, "she would not let circumstances reign over her life and despite everything she chose to live her full life."
Movie actor Eugine Khumbanyiwa described Blandina as "a very passionate activist."
Social commentator Onjezani Kenani wrote: "Shocked to hear news of Blandina Khondowe's passing. So young, such a fearless fighter who fought hard during the struggle. When we last met in Amsterdam four years ago, we talked of plans for a book she wanted to write - about her struggle with cancer. Could I help?, she asked. Of course, I said. We agreed on a few prerequisites that needed to be done before the project could take off. And now it will never take off. A very sad day. Rest in peace, Blandina, a collegemate and fellow warrior in the struggle for justice."
Funeral arrangements are yet to be made for the former beauty queen who is survived by a husband and two children.