Top Chef alum Fatima Ali is opening up about her terminal cancer diagnosis, promising that she is staying strong. After announcing in October that her cancer had returned and revealing that she has a year to live, Ali, 29, spoke with Entertainment Tonight about the diagnosis, her life since, and the overwhelming amount of love and support she has received from fans. “I finished filming Top Chef last year. I had this pain in my shoulder, which was then diagnosed as a tumor. And that tumor, after it got biopsied, it was actually a form of cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma,” Ali revealed.
“We were all stumped, because how can the cancer come back in two months? I had clear scans. I was almost there, at the finish line, and now I was getting yanked back,” she said of the diagnosis. “When my doctor said that it is probably about a year without treatment, in my head I just knew I had to make this year count.” Ali had revealed her terminal cancer diagnosis on Oct. 9 when Bon Appétit published an essay she had written, in which she wrote, “the cancer cancer cells my doctors believed had vanished are back with a vengeance in my left hip and femur bone.”
“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 continued in the essay. “I used to dream of owning my own restaurant. Now I have an ever growing list of the ones I need to visit… An odd sense of relief has settled inside me, knowing that I can finally live for myself, even if it’s just for a few more precious months.” Now, Ali is spending time with family and friends, including Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, who visited her in the hospital prior to her surgery in January.
“Lakshmi] has been amazing, she really has,” Ali said. “She keeps sending me food all the time, whether I can eat it or not. She is always sending me food.” Along with spending time with loved ones, Ali is also working on checking a number of items off her bucket list, revealing to Us Weekly that she is “keen on visiting new restaurants all around the world and getting my eat on.” She added that she now “will never say no to a good meal — be it the tiniest of road side stalls (often my favorite) to the best in the world like NOMA or Eleven Madison Park.” Ali had originally been diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, shortly after competing on the Bravo cooking competition show’s 15th season.