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How Did Elly Mayday Die? 5 Details About The Body Positive Model

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How Did Elly Mayday Die? 5 Details About The Body Positive Model

Body-positive model Elly Mayday passed away on March 1 at 5:14 p.m. Her family announced her passing on Mayday’s social media.

Mayday was unconventional on many counts. Not only was she a plus-sized model: she was also battling ovarian cancer. Mayday fought the disease on and off for six years but ultimately lost her fight on Friday. She was 30 years old.

Mayday’s legacy lives on, however, as her public battle touched hundreds of thousands of people. She showed beauty, strength, and bravery where people least expect it, and also brought attention to ovarian cancer, which typically affects older women. One woman commented on the Facebook post that Elly had saved her life.

“[Instead] of giving up,” she said after recounting how hard it was to get a cancer diagnosis, “I’m now 3yrs in remission and owe that to you Elly.”

So how did Elly Mayday die? Below are the details Elly Mayday, who continued persisting even when life couldn’t seem to get worse.

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1. Doctors dismissed her pain at first and told her she needed to lose weight.

It took a while for Mayday to get diagnosed. Longer than a while — it took three years. She ended up in the emergency room four times for constant and severe lower back pain.

Doctors did not think there was any reason to probe further. Instead, they suggested losing weight.

“The doctor told me to work out my core,” Mayday told People in 2015. She recognized there was something more ominous at work for her lack of diagnosis.

“We’re undermined being younger, being women. I started to realize no one is going to help me unless I help myself.”

2. Her real name is Ashley Luther.

Elly Mayday was born in Saskatchewan, Canada on April 15, 1988, as Ashley Shandrel Luther. She grew up on a ranch near Aylesbury, where her family grows crops, raised cattle, horses, pigs and chickens and runs a local restaurant.

The name “Elly Mayday” is a clever combination of her careers. Elly May Clampett is a character on the Beverly Hillbillies with a pin-up girl’s body; Ashley tacked on “day” to pay homage to her career as a flight attendant.

3. She was diagnosed with cancer at the same time her modeling career was about to take off.

“I didn’t think about it being cancer until about an hour before [the biopsy],” Mayday said after the discovery she had an ovarian cyst through a CT scan. Doctors were not alarmed when they found it, so at first, May was not too concerned.

Then the diagnosis came. The biopsy revealed that it was, in fact, cancer: low-grade serous carcinoma, a rare form of ovarian cancer.

The timing was uncanny in terms of her career. She started her second career as a hobby, through pin-up modeling.

“I was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer around the same time that I had two (modeling) contracts offered to me. Instead of stepping out of the light, I welcomed it,” she told Now To Love.

“I started out modeling because a lot of people said I was pretty, but no one would give me work because I wasn’t super tall or skinny enough. So I went into pin-up because I liked the vintage style—it embraces my curves. I did it just for fun. I wanted to be a model who smiled and was a representation of women like me because when I was growing up there was no one who was bigger and beautiful.”

After her diagnosis in 2013, she quit her job with Sun Wing, a charter airline, to pursue modeling.

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4. She chronicled her battle with cancer on social media.

She immediately began treatment following her diagnosis. She underwent three months of chemotherapy and a nine-hour surgery to remove tumors. She also had a hysterectomy in Aug. 2014.

“A doctor once said to me, as a joke, looking at my womanly figure, you are not lacking in estrogen. He was right … I did want to have children. My plan was to have five.”

Mayday bared her battle scars, both mental and physical, on her social media pages, as well as for magazines and lingerie line Forever Yours.

“I wanted to show that you can be beautiful when you are going through hell,” she told The Australian Women’s Weekly in 2014. “You’ve just got to keep your head held high and remember, no matter how bad it is, there are always people going through worse.”


Lost a few followers the other day with my post showing all my injection sites. I do my best to not freak you guys out while at the same time giving you a real look at my situation. I don’t think my page is typical of the cancer story. I don’t speak heavily about religion because I believe it isn’t something that unites us all, rather divides. I speak about love, since I believe that’s more connecting. I’m not the “thumbs up” cancer girl that’s going to always post positively. I’m not throwing shade on those who are, it’s just not me. I’m not a happy person everyday. I’m not a warrior, I don’t label myself with this “fight” vocabulary associated with cancer. I’m just a girl who’s working towards getting better. I know I did a boxing shoot but this was before I understood cancer for myself. I don’t celebrate being a survivor. I think it’s alright for others to do so but I feel too aware of how many don’t move past this disease. Being that I am so public I have met and lost many women. I’m also never truly done with this disease. I personally don’t like that I’m losing my summer, being poked with needles and confined to living in a hospital, among many other things I could complain about.. but I can’t do anything about it so why be upset. I’ve made the best of my situation because I’ve chosen to. I hope you take the time to understand your feelings about this disease for yourself. If you are planning on being public about it, know there are sacrifices you’re making but know there is also benefits to being open. (It’s best to comment rather than dm me your response to this, I read my comments)

A post shared by Elly Mayday (@elly.mayday) on Aug 30, 2018 at 1:58pm PDT

5. She believed she had beaten cancer, but it returned.

She was told she was cancer-free in July 2014, but in 2017, doctors confirmed that it had returned.

According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women. A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer is 1 in 78. The University of New Mexico Cancer Center reported that 40 to 50 percent of ovarian cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy and enter remission will have a recurrence within three years.

Despite spending much of her time in the hospital after the cancer returned, Mayday did not let the statistics faze her.

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Alison Cerri is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.