This 30-Year-Old Model Documents Some of Her Most Difficult Moments in the Hospital After Learning Her Ovarian Cancer Returned
From surgical scars to chemo side effects, Elly Mayday is sharing her story.
When Elly Mayday was diagnosed with ovarian cancer five years ago at age 25, she didn't shy away from documenting her battle. Instead, she used her visibility as a plus-size model to publicize the disease, which usually strikes women who are much older.
Now, she's fighting cancer a second time. And once again, this Canadian native is using social media to reveal what it's really like to be an ovarian cancer “thriver,” as Mayday put it—from the scars on her abdomen from several surgeries (including a hysterectomy) to chemo side effects like fevers and dry skin.
Her posts documenting her second bout with cancer began in June, after Mayday went to the ER because she'd been having pain over the previous few months. "Things changed very quickly for me this week and I'm just trying to sort it out now but I feel the plan is coming together," she captioned an Instagram post of herself in a hospital bed on June 16.
“I had a plan to take chemo and possibly have an operation to remove tumor and scar tissue, which is blocking my bowel from working,” she wrote. “I’ve spent the past two days not having anything move through me. Consistently vomiting. This morning I went into ER and I’ve been admitted. The blockage is complete so we’re doing another tube to relieve the stress and pain."
For her first bout with the disease, it took almost three years for doctors to finally diagnose her with stage 3 ovarian cancer. “I had [gone] undiagnosed for about 2.5 years,” she tells Health. “Through menopause, [a] hysterectomy, recurrences and chemo...I merged my modeling career into the life I was now fighting for. It’s been a difficult time.”
Now that she's fighting cancer again, she’s using her platform to encourage women to trust their bodies and seek treatment if they sense something's not right. Ovarian cancer is often not discovered until it's in a later, less curable stage. That's because the disease often has no symptoms, and when there are signs (like pelvic pain, bloating, or a change in bowel habits), they tend to be mistaken for other conditions, especially in younger women like Mayday.
Earlier this month, she posted a video of herself undergoing chemo, admitted that she was “pretty miserable” and not totally comfortable being so vulnerable on social media.
On Monday, she told her followers that she was home on her farm in Canada and even went out for a walk.
On Wednesday, she was back in treatment. She wrote a post detailing some side effects of chemo most people are unaware of, like cold sores and dry skin. She also explained how the fatigue brought on by chemo makes even the smallest self-care moves extremely difficult.
"Little things take energy. Brushing your teeth, washing your hands, showering when able," she captioned a post-shower selfie. "Don’t be too tough, if you need a painkiller. Take one," she continued. "I always try and handle the pain but sometimes ya can’t."
Thanks to her emotionally honest posts about what it's like to undergo grueling treatment twice, Mayday provides a real and raw look at living with ovarian cancer. You can follow her story under the hashtag “#OneHellOvaWoman.”