The Real World: San Diego's Frankie Abernathy Dies
06/12/2007 AT 06:35 PM EDT
While no official cause of death has been determined, Abernathy had waged a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis, a chronic lung disease.
Her death "was very sudden," her mother, Abbie Hunter, told MTV News. "It still was kind of a shock, and it just wasn't how we figured things would go. It seems like her little body just gave out."
During her 2004 stint on the MTV reality show, Abernathy struggled with the hereditary disease, which causes mucus buildup in the throat and digestive track.
A free-spirited punk-rock lover, Abernathy once said during her time in the Real World house: "Tomorrow is a privilege, so live today like tomorrow isn't happening."
Abernathy left the house early – she had problems with her roommates and missed her boyfriend. While on the show, she also intentionally cut herself with a kitchen knife. Her mother said her behavior helped raise awareness about cutting.
"I think she touched a lot of people and made an impact on a lot of people's lives," Hunter told MTV. "That's what you want when you have a child – you hope they do that. I wish it had been in a different way, but I am proud of her."