If you’ve never heard the name Elly Mayday before, you’re about to be very gutted that you didn’t know of her before today. The body-positive model and activist, whose real name is Ashley Luther, had fought ovarian cancer for several years and sadly lost the battle last Friday at the age of 30.

The news was announced by her family a few days ago on Instagram. The caption read, “Ashley was a country girl at heart who had a passion for life that was undeniable. She dreamed of making an impact on people’s lives. She achieved this through the creation of Elly Mayday which allowed her to connect with all of you. Her constant support and love from her followers held a special place in her heart.”

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Elly Mayday’s given name was Ashley Shandrel Luther. She was born on April 15, 1988 in Saskatchewan, Canada. Ashley was deeply loved by her family in Canada and in Germany. . . Ashley was a country girl at heart who had a passion for life that was undeniable. She dreamed of making an impact on people’s lives. She achieved this through the creation of Elly Mayday which allowed her to connect with all of you. Her constant support and love from her followers held a special place in her heart. . . 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. . . love and light, . Ashely’s loving family

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Luther was an inspiration to many women

Even though she lost the battle to cancer, the good vibes and positivity Luther inspired in all her followers will last and hopefully continue to grow into something even more beautiful. Shape reports that Luther was not just a well-known body positivity activist, but she was also an avid advocate for women’s health. The latter became her life’s mission after doctors ignored her cancer symptoms for years before they finally diagnosed her. By the time the diagnosis was made, she had stage 3 ovarian cancer.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, women are more likely to start experiencing symptoms related to ovarian cancer once it has spread, but even early-stage ovarian cancer can cause symptoms. Many of the symptoms associated with ovarian cancer could be signs of other health problems. If the symptoms are persistent or occur more often or tend to be more severe, there might be a good chance that ovarian cancer is the culprit. Symptoms can include fatigue, an upset stomach, back pain, constipation, changes in your period, abdominal swelling and pain as well as weight loss. Experiencing any of these symptoms more than 12 times a month calls for a visit to your doctor. Stat.

Doctors ignored Luther’s symptoms for three years

Luther knew something was wrong with her body way back in 2013 when she experienced excruciating pain in her back, so much so that she went to the emergency room. The doctors who treated her dismissed the pain and told her that she had to lose weight and exercise more to strengthen her core. In 2015 she told People magazine about the incident. “We’re undermined being younger, being women. I started to realize no one is going to help me unless I help myself,” she said. This is a scary thing to hear in the 21st century. One would think doctors would do tests regardless of whether they think it’s cancer or not – just to make sure, because you can never be too sure when it comes to cancer. In Luther’s case, the delay in diagnosis may very well be what cost her her life in the end.

Her diagnosis inspired her to help others

Luther had three more trips to the ER before doctors finally ran some tests after she demanded they do so. This was three years after her first trip to the hospital. The CT scan showed that she had an ovarian cyst and after doctors did a biopsy, it was found that she had stage 3 ovarian cancer. Even though this news must’ve been very upsetting, especially after knowing that something was wrong for three years, Luther did not back down. She continued with her modeling career and in the process inspired many people.

Luther appeared in several campaigns after losing her hair due to chemotherapy and still appeared in photo shoots, showing off the scars she got from surgery. According to the Cosmopolitan, she was determined to prove to the world that those suffering from cancer are still beautiful. “I figured that maybe I could help someone going through something similar while continuing on with my own dreams,” Luther said in an interview.

Luther showed everyone that cancer doesn’t have to rule your life

While the chemotherapy seemed to be working at first, Luther’s cancer came back in 2017. Even though this must’ve been absolutely devastating, she used it as an opportunity to show others how cancer affects your life. She gave people a real, unfiltered look into her life through her Instagram posts, sharing how the cancer was affecting her self-esteem and other aspects of daily living.

Thanks to her raw and honest posts, Luther became somewhat of a leader for body positivity. Last year in October, she even took part in a photoshoot for Elle magazine, called “Behind the Scars”. She was pictured in just her underwear, proudly showing off the scars she got from her hysterectomy. In an interview for the shoot, Luther said that she had embraced her scars.

“My scar has really become a big part of me and my cancer. Instead of letting it destroy my life and dream, I embraced it and used it to help others. My choice to model through cancer was freeing. My scars are my trademark, my beauty mark and the reason I am alive today. I’m so thankful for the awareness this mark has allowed me to make.”

Luther had always challenged stereotypes

Luther was determined to challenge stereotypes even before her cancer diagnosis. According to Shape, she was told that she’d be nothing but a pin-up model because her size and weight did not fit the mold. Being the fighter she was, she launched a successful career despite all the negative commentary, becoming one of the first curve models to step into the spotlight and make a massive success out of it. Having experienced body-shaming first hand, Luther made it her life’s mission to encourage other women to embrace the skin they’re in and ignore anyone else who doesn’t share the love they have for their bodies.

Why are women not taken seriously when they experience pain?

There’s no denying that it’s terribly unfair for someone to die of cancer at the age of 30 in the 21st century. This brings us to an important question: how many other women out there are not receiving the treatment they need because doctors think they’re being “overdramatic” when they complain about pain?

According to Shape, research shows that women are more likely than men to be told that their pain is psychosomatic or “all in their head” or the result of some underlying emotional problem. One almost can’t believe that’s still a thing today. But it is and it gets worse. Research has also shown that doctors and nurses tend to prescribe less pain medication to women than they do men after surgery. This remains the case, even though more frequent and severe pain levels are reported by women. What the heck?

Luther is not the only one whose symptoms were ignored

We recently reported that actress Selma Blair is staying strong after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The funny thing is that she recently revealed that doctors didn’t take her symptoms seriously either and continued to be ignorant of it for years leading up to her diagnosis. She said that she cried tears of joy when she finally found out what was wrong with her. This is one of the many reasons Luther made it her mission to encourage women to fight for their own health and to not be afraid to speak up when they know that there’s something wrong with their bodies.

She may have been young, but she made an incredible impact

In one of the last posts Luther shared on Instagram before her death, she said that she’d “always been looking for that opportunity to help people” and that her sharing her battle with cancer did exactly that. She added that helping others is her way of justifying that her time on earth has been well spent.

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Most people never think they will be the one that get the illness, is in the car accident or the one that has to face a huge hurdle in life. Except me. When I was little, like 7 or 8 I remember sitting out on one of my fav oak trees in my farm. I envisioned talking and teaching massive stadiums full of people about what I had been through. Although I didn’t know what “it” would be, 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. I’m lucky I have been able to combine it with the fun career of modeling, cause that’s also very me (hah no surprise) 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. Makes that girl on the oak tree feel pretty complete.

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It’s safe to say that she did indeed spend her time well. Not only did she encourage and inspire thousands of other women, but she also shed light on some very important issues. It is now our responsibility to continue to fight for what we know women deserve, to make sure that our medical concerns are taken seriously, and to help those who are struggling to be heard. There’s no better way to honor Luther’s life than to continue the good work she started.

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