Former Miss Universe Dayanara Torres speaks out for the first time about her battle against cancer, the support she's received from her loved ones, and the life lesson she learned from her broken engagement after she was diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma.

In January, Dayanara Torres heard the words no one wants to hear: You have cancer. “I felt this chill come over me all of a sudden, when I was told [the biopsy had come back] positive for melanoma. My soul left my body for a second. [I was] afraid, I cried,” Torres tells People En Español exclusively about the Stage 3 cancer that had reached some lymph nodes but no other organs. “I also shared the news with my babies.”

Dayanara Torres

Her teenage sons, Cristian and Ryan, whose father is Puerto Rican singer Marc Anthony, have been her biggest supporters since she began her treatments some six months ago. Also in her corner: Her mother, Luz Delgado, and sister, Jeannette Torres, who appear alongside the former Miss Universe in our exclusive cover story.

Marc Anthony, Dayanara Torres

In this interview, featured in the magazine's September issue, Torres reflects on her battle against cancer and how her diagnosis has driven more Latinos to check suspicious-looking moles and spots — a phenomenon that has been referred to as the “Dayanara Effect” by some dermatologists in medical write-ups. She also shares how she has leaned on her loved ones to remain strong while she faces radiotherapy, a treatment that both exhausts her and causes swelling, and that she will have to do every 21 days until March 2020.

“I'm so lucky — so blessed to have the family I have, the sister I have, my mom, my friends. There's so much affection,” she says. “I never expected to get so much love from them, from my [social media] followers. I feel loved, happy.”

Dayanara Torres

The Puerto Rican television personality, who is a judge on Mira Quién Baila All Stars, also speaks for the first time about her former fiancé, Hollywood producer Louis D'Esposito, who last year encouraged her to see a doctor about a mole on the back of her right knee — and who ended their engagement after she was diagnosed with skin cancer.

“God speaks to you in the way that you will listen, and [for] years people have been telling me, ‘Get that checked out' and [I] never did,” she admits. “I listened to [Louis and] maybe that was his purpose, and all my life I'll be grateful to him. That was his purpose: Make me realize that I have to seek medical attention, and look at what came of it. Thanks to him, I found this.”

Dayanara Torres y su hermana Jeannette Torres

And how is her heart doing post-breakup? “I'm going to concentrate on my things, that's how I've dealt with it. That came into my life, and now I'm doing what I should have been doing all along and I'll just keep moving forward,” she says. “Besides finding myself and making me aware of what was happening with my skin, [this relationship] also let me know that it's possible to fall in love. I know that at some point later on, something perfect will come my way.”

To read more of our exclusive interview with Dayanara Torres, look for the September issue of People en Español, on newsstands now.