Beauty through ad­ver­sity

Cana­dian model Elly May­day is can­cer ‘thriver’

The Daily Observer - - LIFE - ALEESHA HAR­RIS ahar­ris@post­media.com

What would you do if you were di­ag­nosed with can­cer?

While most peo­ple can’t imag­ine what that mo­ment might be like, Elly May­day knows ex­actly what she’d do.

The Saskatchewan-born model was di­ag­nosed in 2013 with ovar­ian can­cer, and that’s when she de­cided that rather than give up her dreams and al­low can­cer to win, she would fight back — and con­tinue to model.

May­day chat­ted with Post­media News in ad­vance of her visit to Vancouver this month to ac­cept the Virginia Greene Award from Ovar­ian Can­cer Canada:

Q How did you get into mod­el­ling ?

A In 2013, I dove into the fun world of pin-up mod­el­ling and won a con­test at a lo­cal car show, al­low­ing me to work with lo­cal com­pa­nies. Soon, enough agen­cies from the U.S. were in­ter­ested in sign­ing me.

Q What has been your top mo­ment as a model so far?

A Be­ing rec­og­nized along with some of New York City’s top mod­els for (Lane Bryant’s #ImNoAn­gel cam­paign). See­ing my im­age on the largest screen in Times Square was a pretty big mo­ment for me. I had only been to N.Y.C. once be­fore that time and I will never for­get it.

Q You’ve cap­tured at­ten­tion for more than just your mod­el­ling tal­ent. You’re also a can­cer sur­vivor. What can you share about that?

A I like to call my­self a can­cer “thriver.” I was di­ag­nosed with Stage-3 Ovar­ian Can­cer around the same time that I had two con­tracts of­fered to me. In­stead of step­ping out of the light, I wel­comed it. I fig­ured that maybe I could help some­one go­ing through some­thing sim­i­lar, while con­tin­u­ing on with my own dreams. I mean, I was go­ing through it ei­ther way — why not make it as pos­i­tive as pos­si­ble?

Q You’ve been very open about your bat­tle with can­cer — even mod­el­ling with a bald head and show­cas­ing your post­surgery scars. What made you want to do this?

A For a few rea­sons. Ovar­ian can­cer needs more aware­ness and more fund­ing. I also feel that there are far too many women who shy away due to the phys­i­cal changes they ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing treat­ment — and even through­out life. Con­fi­dence is the most beau­ti­ful thing in the world, and I wanted to show that it can still be yours through can­cer.

Q What type of feed­back have you re­ceived from fans about your open­ness?

A I have been so grate­ful to have so many peo­ple thank me for my open­ness when re­ally, I don’t think they re­al­ize how much it helped me to share. I couldn’t have done it alone, I couldn’t be silent. I’m try­ing to be a voice for all the women we have lost to this dis­ease — it’s in me to start this con­ver­sa­tion. It’s great to be called beau­ti­ful, but it means ev­ery­thing to be called an in­spi­ra­tion.

Q Ovar­ian Can­cer Canada has awarded you with the Virginia Greene Award. What does this mean to you?

A It was very un­ex­pected but such an hon­our to be seen in the same light as such a strong and pas­sion­ate woman such as Virginia. When I met with Virginia’s daugh­ter, Jus­tine, I felt the fire and com­pas­sion she had for help­ing bring this dis­ease to the fore­front. I hope I make the women who cur­rently live with this dis­ease, and the fam­i­lies who have lost loved ones, proud. Be­ing given this award says I am go­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

Q If there was one mis­con­cep­tion about can­cer pa­tients and sur­vivors you wish you could set straight, what would it be? A I think it’s the as­sump­tion that we’re not the same per­son — but we are!

Q What’s next for you?

A I am so ex­cited to get back to N.Y.C. and con­tinue shar­ing my story, but I am also plan­ning a huge Canada-wide speak­ing tour. I re­ally want every­one to know the im­por­tance of be­ing pos­i­tive to­ward what­ever life throws your way.

Erin CrOOkS PHO­TOG­ra­PHY

Cana­dian model Elly May­day.

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