This is a very sad story.
Reported at Chessbase.com. In 2007 this lovely young lady sported hair down to her hips, but the latest photo in the Chessbase report from December, 2009 showed Elena with short hair growing out after what must have been a long bout of intensive chemo-therapy and/or radiation therapy. I'm guessing, of course - I do not possess any insider information. But, we've all seen pictures in the media of the changes wrought in a person's hair after chemo and radiation, or have experienced it up close and personal with a loved one who goes through such cancer treatment. Elena played under the Russian flag, and had an ELO of 2455.
IM/WGM Elena Tairova passes away at eighteen
24.03.2010 – Very sad news from Russia: the talented young player Elena Tairova, born on August 28 1991, has died at the age of just 18. Elena became a WGM at just 14 years of age, and a full IM the following year. She won a succession of European and World girls’ junior titles, and in 2006 was the Russian women’s under-20 champion. We offer our deepest condolences to her family and friends.