Back in 2013, model Elly Mayday was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She was 25 years old and just beginning to build a career for herself — but by the time it was discovered, Mayday's cancer had already reached stage three.
Rather than letting her diagnosis get her down, however, Mayday decided to use her growing fame to bring awareness to the disease. The model has documented her entire journey on Instagram, including her three months of chemotherapy, five operations (one of which was a full hysterectomy), and experiences launching into early menopause. She's also worked through her treatment and multiple operations, posing for photos with her head shaven and her scars on display.
Mayday recently told SELF that she went three years without knowing she had ovarian cancer, which is why it was so advanced by the time she received her diagnosis. Roughly 21,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and if they catch their symptoms and begin treatment early on, their chances of beating the disease significantly increase.
Earlier this month, the now-28-year-old model took to Instagram once again, this time posting an up-close-and-personal photo of the scar from her fifth operation. She hopes the photo will continue to raise awareness about the disease and remind women who have their own scars that they're beautiful just the way they are.
"This may not be an image you're use [sic] to seeing," she wrote in the caption. "Most moms-to-be post photos like this, in admiration of the little bundle on its way. I'm posting this for what's inside too... but in a different sense."
I've been through more pain than most 28-year-olds, but I am still whole. I've chosen to not let this disease define or deter me. I have love for my body, its strength, and for what it has taught me. I'll do everything in my power to heal, and I have faith it will do its part. I want to teach you all the things I've learned, how strong, beautiful, and capable the body is. Most importantly, I want to show you how you are #stillbeautiful through the things life hands us. So, let's turn these scars into #beautymarks.
Well said, Elly.