A plus-size model and ovarian cancer battler is aiming to change the conversation surrounding popular perceptions of beauty after posting a heart-wrenching photo of her fifth post-surgery scar to eradicate the disease.
“This may not be the an image you're use (sic) to seeing,” 28-year-old Elly Mayday, who is Canadian but based in New York City, wrote in the viral Instagram post, which had garnered nearly 4,500 likes as of Wednesday morning. “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.”
Mayday, who had been documenting her ovarian cancer journey on Instagram, told PEOPLE in October 2015 that doctors initially mistook her ovarian cancer symptoms for her weight and sent her away with painkillers. When she was finally diagnosed in 2013, the disease had reached stage 3, SELF.com reported.
According to the American Cancer Society, symptoms of ovarian cancer include frequent urination, bloating, trouble eating or feeling full quickly, and pelvic or abdominal pain. However, catching ovarian cancer early is difficult due to a lack of effective diagnostic tools, as well as because most of its symptoms occur about as often in women who don’t have ovarian cancer. The five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is 90 percent for stage 1, 70 percent for stage 2, 39 percent for stage 3, and 17 percent for stage 4.
But Mayday didn’t let the odds prevent her from chasing her dreams. As she fought the disease, she continued to pursue her modeling career.
“I didn’t want anything to get in the way, even cancer,” she told PEOPLE.
Even through three months of chemotherapy and a full hysterectomy, she also didn’t let her diagnosis prevent her from showing love to herself, SELF.com reported.
“I've been through more pain than most 28yr olds, but I am still whole,” Mayday wrote in the viral Instagram post. “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,” she continued.
“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”