A 30-year-old Canadian model and body positivity advocate has died after a long battle with ovarian cancer.
Saskatchewan’s Elly Mayday, born Ashley Luther, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer five years ago.
Mayday began experiencing lower back and stomach pain, bloating and fatigue in 2013, but said doctors initially didn’t know what was causing her symptoms. After several CT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds, Mayday was diagnosed with a rare form of stage 3 ovarian cancer.
The model began making videos on YouTube, and sharing photos with her 93,000 Instagram followers, educating others on ovarian cancer and chronicling her hysterectomy, subsequent menopause and chemotherapy.
Prior to her diagnosis, Mayday moved to British Columbia to pursue a career as a plus-size model, and became a champion for body diversity. Determined to build her career, Mayday continued filming for the upcoming documentary “A Perfect 14” despite her failing health.
“She was so raw,” Giovanna Morales, the documentary’s director told CTV News. “She was so special to share something so difficult.”
Mayday modelled bald while undergoing treatment, and never shied away from showing off her scars, or having them digitally altered during photoshoots.
Following her death, Mayday’s family and friends shared a message to her followers, thanking them for years of support.
“Ashley was a country girl at heart who had a passion for life that was undeniable. She dreamed of making an impact on people’s lives,” the message read. “She achieved this through the creation of Elly Mayday which allowed her to connect with all of you. Her constant support and love from her followers held a special place in her heart…You all inspired Ashley and we hope she did the same for you.”
Stephanie Gosselin, Saskatchewan’s Regional Director for Ovarian Cancer Canada, worked with Mayday to raise funds and awareness for the disease.
“Up to 80 per cent of the time the disease will recur,” Gosselin told the CBC. “Statistics are terrible. 56 per cent of women will not survive the first five years after diagnosis.”
According to Ovarian Cancer Canada, there are no standalone tests to accurately detect ovarian cancer. Women who experience symptoms such as low back pain, bloating, abnormal bleeding, changes in diet or changes in frequency of urination should insist that their doctor perform a complete pelvic exam, transvaginal or pelvic ultrasound as well as a CA-125 blood test.
These three procedures in combination can help detect abnormalities which will prompt further investigation, including surgery.