Elly Mayday is a model, women’s health advocate and ovarian cancer contender. Last year, the Saskatchewan-born woman was made the face of Addition Elle’s BRAve Campaign, which raises funds that will go towards programming, education and research into ovarian cancer. 

We caught up with her this week. 

SDTC: How would you like to redefine our society’s current definition of beauty?

EM: I think diversity is something we can never have enough of. When a person can look at a magazine and see themselves represented then I know we will have made a movement towards a society that feels beautiful.

As an ovarian cancer survivor, how do you think that’s shaped your view of the modelling industry and our current standards of beauty?

I am not defined by the way I look. I have had many physical changes and because of it, I have had to test my idea of beauty. I’ve seen myself on a level most don’t— with all the things I thought defined me taken away. What I was left with was who I truly am.

Who you are is not defined by your outward appearance; it’s merely a way to describe you but not define you. It’s a strange thought, to have everything taken away but still find yourself whole. That’s what’s important. That’s what women need to see when they look in a mirror.

via Instagram

If you could go back and tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

It’ll be worth it. The pain, the tears, the emotions and heartache. You’ve got the lead role in the story of your life; don’t waste it.

What do you want other women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer to know?

You are stronger than you know. Your body can do incredible things. Have the courage to face this with all your heart and know that you are not alone.

What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

I’ve created the movement #OneHellOvaWoman, which will be a platform for women to find their strength, share their story and create a community that thrives. We will discuss more than cancer by taking a thoughtful approach to women’s health in every aspect. [We’ll be] sharing stories of strength, love and living consciously, reminding women everywhere that they are #OneHellOvaWoman.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love helping people. The day my world fell apart was the day it really all started to come together. I saw an opportunity to change a person’s life by the way I approached mine and I just want to keep trying to help others.