Top Chef season 15 contestant Fatima Ali has penned a powerful essay for Bon Appétit’s "Healthyish" in which she reveals that she is expected to have just one year left to live after a new cancer diagnosis.
Ali, who became the first Pakistani woman to ever win Chopped in 2012 prior to joining Top Chef in 2017, announced early into season 15 of Top Chef that she was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare tumor that grows in one's bones or soft tissue. Following chemotherapy and surgery to remove a tumor in her shoulder, Ali was announced cancer-free this February. However, in Bon Appétit, Ali — declared the Fan Favorite on season 15 of her Bravo series — revealed that her cancer has returned.
"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," Ali wrote. "Guess I have to step it up on the flirting. I have no time to lose."
Never losing her sense of humor, Ali wrote in the essay about trying new things in her possibly final months of life.
"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. I call a local hair stylist to come to my hospital room to dye half my hair platinum blonde and buzz the rest."
She shared this photo on Instagram of her new look:
As one might expect, the chef has one final wish list to complete, which she wrote about in the food magazine.
"I used to dream of owning my own restaurant. Now I have an ever growing list of the ones I need to visit. From decadent uni and truffle toast at Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare to spice-laden Szechuan hot pot in Flushing, I’m sketching a plan to eat my way through New York and the boroughs while I can."
The same day her essay appeared on "Healthyish," her fellow Top Chef contestant, Adrienne Cheatham, created a Go Fund Me page dedicated to raising money for Ali's very expensive treatments. In just the first 24 hours of the campaign, $41K of the requested $150K has been raised. "Let’s join together in helping Fati experience all that life has to offer this year," the site reads. "She has so bravely and courageously shared so much of herself with us, inspiring so many to keep fighting and reminding us to appreciate life. Let’s help her get the most out of the life she has been given!"
This story has been updated with additional reporting.