"I died my hair teal because it is the colour of the ribbon for Ovarian Cancer" ~Elly
Her real name was Ashley Luther, but to the modeling world, she was known as Elly Mayday. Blonde, statuesque, and gorgeous, the Canadian-born beauty took the plus-size modeling world by storm.
She was riding the fast tract fame and fortune when, at age 25, her entire world came crashing down. After her complaints of pain were dismissed by her doctors, she had to become more assertive.
“The body positivity activist had battled the aggressive cancer since 2013, though it took several tries to get her doctors to believe that something was severely wrong and formally diagnose her.”
A CT scan revealed an ovarian cyst which turned out to be stage three ovarian cancer. That was in 2013. Since then, Elly fought the disease by following traditional treatments: hysterectomy, chemotherapy, and multiple surgeries.
Elly finally went into remission in 2015, and she enjoyed a few years of relatively good health. She used that time to inspire others going through similar journeys. But the hospital visits didn't end.
In July of 2018, after numerous trips back and forth between the hospital and home, Elly made this announcement on social media:
“Today has been the toughest day of my life.
“I will be staying in hospital for the next 4 weeks/possible months to receive IV feedings and chemo until my body starts working again.
“My body needs to be fed due to the amount of tumors and the constant fear of having a complete blockage of my bowels. I’ll do my best to keep my spirits high, as I know you will too.
“It’s just been non stop for the past 3 weeks and it’s not over yet. So this is the plan.
“Keep living. Keep going. Find the light.”
Then, in August, another milestone.
After explaining that she was told that the chemo she was on would probably not result in the loss off her hair, she soon found out differently. Once it became ‘annoying’ she decided to just shave it all off
“Let’s chat about the hair for a moment, shall we? “
Instead of feeling sorry for herself, Ashley (Elly) saw the experience as another opportunity to show women where real beauty lies. And it’s not in your hair.
“Our beauty comes out if we accept the changes we must face and allow ourselves to just embrace our differences. It’s something I’ve learned and my experience is what I share with all of you.
“That’s my gift.”
Then, in August, after feeling awful from the side effects of her chemo, she was diagnosed with a blood clot in her lung.
Mayday took the bitter pill with a grain of humor.
“I’m a bit bummed about that but I figure if all you girls send me the name of your ex boyfriends, who were p**cks, I’ll dedicate my needle to them. ☺️😬
And all along the way, Elly kept her Instagram followers posted, even at the risk of ‘grossing them out.’
“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.”
After three long months in the hospital, Elly was finally discharged in October, and her mood was, understandable, upbeat.
“89 Days in the Hospital and this girl has finally been discharged 😆 Let’s party!”
And that’s exactly what she did! Over the next two months, Elly lived life to the fullest - doing all the things she missed while she was in the hospital, especially spending time outdoors and with family and friends - but then things came to a screeching halt around Christmas.
Her cancer had spread and grown, forcing her to make what would be her final trip to the hospital.
Elly admitted that she was actually relieved to be back with all the hospital staff she had grown to love during her other stays. But, it was still a shock that it had come to that.
But, once again, amidst all her pain, her thoughts turned to others in the hospital who didn’t have it as good as she did.
“I wish I could buy all the patients the softest, cuddliest blanket ever. It’s the one thing I need to be happy in here. ☺️
Truly, it’s the simple things in life that make all the difference.
Then, things continued to go downhill, Elly was unable to continue her postings to Instagram. But, her final written post, she gave a beautiful, yet bittersweet testimony to her journey, again stressing that her goal all along was to help other people going through similar trials.
“Most people never think they will be the one that gets the illness, is in the car accident or the one that has to face a huge hurdle in life. Except me.”
She explains that ever since she was a little girl, Elly was convinced that she would have ‘a thing’ that would put her in front of crowds of people so she could share her story.
“In a way, I’ve always been looking for that opportunity to help people. My choice to be public and try and share my strength was imminent. Helping is how I justify my time here is well spent.”
Little did she realize that her suffering and eventual dying at age 30 would be the very thing that connected her the most to people and the world.
“I appreciate everyone who lets me know I’ve made a difference, with my advice, my sharing, my photos and just my general approach to a real tough situation.”
“Ashely passed away on Friday, March 1st at 5:14pm. You all inspired Ashley and we hope she did the same for you. Feel free to share your positive thoughts and memories below.”
And, boy! Did they!!
“Omg 😮 Im heart broken. Your light will shine on forever 😢”
“Making heaven more beautiful. Rest in paradise. 💜💜”
“Rest in peace, you fierce and powerful warrior. The world is dimmer without you in it.”
Thank you, Ashley Shandrel Luther, for sharing your journey with us. We wish it could have ended differently, but just know that your openness and vulnerability have helped a lot of people.
And now you can finally rest in peace, with the assurance that your 30 years on this earth were well-spent.