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This 30-Year-Old Model Documents Some of Her Most Difficult Moments in the Hospital After Learning Her Ovarian Cancer Returned

Health logoHealth 7/12/2018 Blake Bakkila
a woman sitting on a bed © Provided by TIME Inc.

When Elly Mayday was diagnosed with ovarian cancer five years ago at age 25, she didn't shy away from documenting her battle. Instead, she used her visibility as a plus-size model to publicize the disease, which usually strikes women who are much older.

Now, she's fighting cancer a second time. And once again, this Canadian native is using social media to reveal what it's really like to be an ovarian cancer “thriver,” as Mayday put it—from the scars on her abdomen from several surgeries (including a hysterectomy) to chemo side effects like fevers and dry skin.

RELATED: 8 Early Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer, According to Women Who Experienced Them

Her posts documenting her second bout with cancer began in June, after Mayday went to the ER because she'd been having pain over the previous few months. "Things changed very quickly for me this week and I'm just trying to sort it out now but I feel the plan is coming together," she captioned an Instagram post of herself in a hospital bed on June 16.

“I had a plan to take chemo and possibly have an operation to remove tumor and scar tissue, which is blocking my bowel from working,” she wrote. “I’ve spent the past two days not having anything move through me. Consistently vomiting. This morning I went into ER and I’ve been admitted. The blockage is complete so we’re doing another tube to relieve the stress and pain."

I’m sorry I haven’t updated you all on everything that’s happening. I’m not trying to create suspense or be dramatic (this isn’t a soap) although I wish it were sometimes so I could re write this story. I had a plan to take chemo and possibly have an operation to remove tumor and scar tissue, which is blocking my bowel from working. I’ve spent the past two days not having anything move through me. Consistently vomiting. This morning I went into ER and I’ve been admitted. The blockage is complete so we’re doing another tube to relieve the stress and pain. We’re gonna see what the plan is and hope it works so I can have chemo, then go forward with the operation in time. Thanks again so much for all the ?? I haven’t known what to say or how I’m going to do this the Mayday way but it’s coming together. Thanks for seeing me through another storm ???? to all the beauties that sent me letters and crystals, candles and more, thank you! #ovariancancer #ellymayday #hospital #bestrong #onehellovawoman #medical #ovariancancersurvivor #thriver #bowelobstruction #bowel #cancer

A post shared by Elly Mayday (@elly.mayday) on Jun 29, 2018 at 8:46pm PDT

For her first bout with the disease, it took almost three years for doctors to finally diagnose her with stage 3 ovarian cancer. “I had [gone] undiagnosed for about 2.5 years,” she tells Health. “Through menopause, [a] hysterectomy, recurrences and chemo...I merged my modeling career into the life I was now fighting for. It’s been a difficult time.”

RELATED: The Ovarian Cancer Symptoms You Should Never Ignore

Now that she's fighting cancer again, she’s using her platform to encourage women to trust their bodies and seek treatment if they sense something's not right. Ovarian cancer is often not discovered until it's in a later, less curable stage. That's because the disease often has no symptoms, and when there are signs (like pelvic pain, bloating, or a change in bowel habits), they tend to be mistaken for other conditions, especially in younger women like Mayday.

Earlier this month, she posted a video of herself undergoing chemo, admitted that she was “pretty miserable” and not totally comfortable being so vulnerable on social media.

One treatment down, 5 to go. I’m not super strong going into this. The past 2 weeks of NG tubes, hospital stays, vomiting and not having food for 10 days now really has me run down. Im pretty miserable and when I’m like this I don’t like being too public. I’m cold in all this heat and about as tired as a mule. After a 3rd failed attempts today at finding a vein for a baseline heart test, I refused to have another. I went straight to chemo afterwards and the IV was in an awkward position so it took extra time to get it going sufficiently. The nurses were great, what a tough job that would be. So today I’m resting, only getting a bit of sleep due to my rumbling tummy, but I’ll get it eventually. I have to admit I’m excited to see all the letters. I don’t know why I like it so much, just feel better connected to people who physically write to me. ???????????????????????????????????????? Special thanks to my sweet friend and her family for helping me through today. ???? Thanks Stephanie & Roseanne ————————— #chemo #ovariancancer #chemotherapy #ellymayday #livingwithcancer #cancer #iv #treatment #ovcr #tealsisters #onehellovawoman #strongwomen #findyourstrength

A post shared by Elly Mayday (@elly.mayday) on Jul 6, 2018 at 2:25am PDT

On Monday, she told her followers that she was home on her farm in Canada and even went out for a walk.

She put on some clothes and got out for a little walk today. Couldn’t imagine a better place to be than on the farm. ???? Where is your favorite place to relax?

A post shared by Elly Mayday (@elly.mayday) on Jul 9, 2018 at 9:29am PDT

On Wednesday, she was back in treatment. She wrote a post detailing some side effects of chemo most people are unaware of, like cold sores and dry skin. She also explained how the fatigue brought on by chemo makes even the smallest self-care moves extremely difficult.

"Little things take energy. Brushing your teeth, washing your hands, showering when able," she captioned a post-shower selfie. "Don’t be too tough, if you need a painkiller. Take one," she continued. "I always try and handle the pain but sometimes ya can’t."

I had asked for some recommendations on my IG stories for some body lotion ideas. One of the side effects I’m experiencing is dry skin. You all responded and I would love if you could share below (tag the brand would be super helpful! That way others will know) A few other things to note about chemo: Important to stay clean, I know that sounds obvious but it’s hard taking care when you don’t feel well. Little things take energy. Brushing your teeth, washing your hands, showering when able. There is special mouth washes to help with the cold sore side effect. Some of you may have opinions on this too! Write down your pills. So easy to forget! Don’t be too tough, if you need a painkiller. Take one. I always try and handle the pain but sometimes ya can’t. Watch for fevers, they sneak up so fast. Try to minimize multiple guests, people are often sick before they know it. Try to stay hydrated. What do you guys say?! Advice welcome ?? #chemotherapy #chemosideeffects #chemoprep #ellymayday #womenshealth #cancer #ovariancancer #ovariancancersurvivor #thriver #bowelobstruction

A post shared by Elly Mayday (@elly.mayday) on Jul 11, 2018 at 2:58pm PDT

Thanks to her emotionally honest posts about what it's like to undergo grueling treatment twice, Mayday provides a real and raw look at living with ovarian cancer. You can follow her story under the hashtag “#OneHellOvaWoman.”

Video: The Ovarian Cancer Signs You Should Know (Health.com)

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