Updated - adds funeral details, tributes - ANNABELLE VASSALLO, the young inspirational Siggiewi woman who touched the heart of the nation with the way she spoke about her battle with cancer, succumbed to the illness last night.
Her funeral will take place tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Siggiewi parish church.
Ms Vassallo was diagnosed with cancer on Boxing Day in 2006 but the disease which ultimately took her life did not dent her steely spirit or shake her indomitable faith.
In June last year she received the Pro-life award while her autobiography Irrid Nghix was immediately sold out.
In a wide-ranging interview in The Sunday Times and timesofmalta.com last December 19 (see video), Annabelle took readers on a journey of emotions that ebbed and flowed between trying to be realistic about her condition and letting her trademark positivity shine through. .
"My energy fails me; even talking is an effort these days. At the end of the day I want to live. there were times I willed death to take me away, but I can count these occasions on one hand. Life is beautiful, despite the state I'm in," she said.
Attempting to looking on the bright side she was appreciative of every hour she had, living day by day and focusing on little projects at a time. Her next goal she had said, was to remain on earth until March to witness the birth of her niece, and then maybe her 40th birthday on April 19.
"I hope to still be around, but for me these dates seem far away. Then again, the doctor in the UK gave me two to three months to live... A year has passed since then and Christmas is here. It's a great satisfaction to have lived this long."
Gift of Life in a statement this morning expressed its condolences to the family and friends of Annabelle Vassallo.
"The dignity and vigour with which Annabelle lived a life with terminal cancer touched a nation deeply. Ms Vassallo very much remains a beacon of hope for many people suffering with terminal illness in Malta and Gozo. Her courage in the face of such great difficulty was inspirational. Malta was truly enriched by Annabelle and she will be deeply missed," the group said.
The Nationalist Party said that Ms Vassallo had been an inspiration to all. She had led all those who met her on a pilgrimage of faith, hope and courage.
Annabelle's courage enabled one and all to realise the fragility and beauty of life.
The Labour Party said that through her death, Annabelle had lit the fire of life in all the people. She had faced death with a positive message of good will and hope which had touched the hearts of everybody. The party urged the people to treasure her memory.
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