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Top Chef’s Fatima Ali Reveals Her Cancer Has Returned: ‘I Have a Year to Live’

Top Chef star Fatima Ali revealed on Tuesday, October 9, that she has terminal cancer.

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“The cancer cells my doctors believed had vanished are back with a vengeance in my left hip and femur bone,” the season 15 fan favorite, 29, wrote in an essay published by Bon Appétit’s Healthyish on Tuesday, October 9. “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.”

Fatima Ali cancer
Fatima Ali Tommy Garcia/Getty Images

She continued, “It’s funny, isn’t it? When we think we have all the time in the world to live, we forget to indulge in the experiences of living. When that choice is yanked away from us, that’s when we scramble to feel. I am desperate to overload my senses in the coming months, making reservations at the world’s best restaurants, reaching out to past lovers and friends, and smothering my family, giving them the time that I so selfishly guarded before.”

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Ali, who finished in 7th place on Top Chef, was previously diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of bone and soft tissue cancer, in late 2017. She underwent several rounds of chemotherapy before having the tumor in her left shoulder surgically removed. She announced in February that she was cancer-free, but started suffering complications after completing her final found of chemo in August.

“I’ve spent more time in sterile hospital rooms in the past year than I have in my own apartment,” she wrote in her essay. “This has become my new home, and the staff a part of my family. … Everyone’s amazed that I’m taking it so well. But when you hit rock bottom, there really is no place to go but up.”

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The chef admitted that she is “scared” because she fears she “won’t last very long.” But for now, she plans to spend the final months of her life doing what she loves best: visiting new restaurants in New York City.

“I was always deathly afraid of being average in any way,” she concluded. “And now I desperately wish to have a simple, uneventful life.”

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