Fatima Ali, the powerful chef competing on the season 15 of Top Chef, has revealed that her cancer has returned. Shortly after competing on last year’s season, she was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.
This kind of cancer usually occurs in the bone or in the soft tissue around the bone. Common areas are the pelvis, femur, the ribs, the humerus, and clavicle, but can occur in any bone.
Even though Ali had surgery to remove the cancerous cells and was briefly declared cancer-free, she’s now revealing that she got some shattering news from doctors. In an essay to Bon Appetit, Ali writes that she’s now battling cancer again after it has returned with a vengeance. Doctors have given her a year to live.
“The cancer cells my doctors believed had vanished are back with a vengeance in my left hip and femur bone. My oncologist has told me that I have a year to live, with or without the new chemotherapy regimen. I was looking forward to being 30, flirty, and thriving. Guess I have to step it up on the flirting. I have no time to lose,” she explains, sharing that she now has a limited time to live.
In the essay, which is written with clarity, humor and a clear zest for life, Ali opens up about what she intends to do before she passes away. She writes that she wants to visit NOMA in Copenhagen, Denmark – a restaurant that has been voted the best restaurant in the world. But closer to her heart, she also wants to make amends with people.
“In my wallet, I keep a crumpled cocktail napkin with a list of names scrawled on it. They’re people I need to make amends to before I go. I have to learn how to ask for forgiveness without expecting to receive it. It’s probably the most frightening thing I have ever had to do, and I’ve experienced some seriously terror-inducing moments,” she explains.
She ends the essay with a powerful statement about always being different to stand out. Now, that’s not the case.
“I was always deathly afraid of being average in any way, and now I desperately wish to have a simple, uneventful life.”
Ali has documented her battle with cancer on her Instagram page, showing her followers what cancer looks like.
Fatima Ali competed on Top Chef season 15 and she was voted season 15 fan favorite. She was voted out weeks before the finale, but she managed to capture fans and viewers
. Unlike so many chefs, she focused on unique Pakistan-inspired cuisine. During her time on the show, she started out placing high in the competitions but later fell to simply being safe. The week before she was voted out, she placed in the bottom. She never won a challenge.
Her Bravo biography for Top Chef reveals that Fatima Ali begged her parents to allow her to attend culinary school. After winning their approval, she left her hometown in Pakistan at the age of 18 to pursue her dream of traveling to America to attend the Culinary Institute of America. She started working in New York City after her graduation, serving as Junior Sous Chef at Cafe Centro and working her way up to Executive Sous Chef.
Ali also competed on Chopped, becoming the first Pakistani woman to ever win on the show. She’s clearly a role model for many young women, who want to become chefs. Her battle with cancer may just win her many more adoring fans, rooting for her.
Top Chef returns with its 16th season soon. Bravo has not released a premiere date just yet.