'Top Chef' Fan Favorite Fatima Ali Opens Up About Her Terminal Cancer Battle (Exclusive)

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Fatima Ali is staying strong

ET recently sat down with the former Top Chef contestant, who opened up about her heart-wrenching battle with cancer and the ongoing support from her TV family.

"I finished filming Top Chef last year. I had this pain in my shoulder, which was then diagnosed as a tumor," she explained to ET. "And that tumor, after it got biopsied, it was actually a form of cancer called Ewing's sarcoma."

Earlier this year, the 29-year-old was declared cancer-free, only to find out in September that the rare form of cancer had returned.

"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 emotionally recalled. "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 opened up about her cancer returning in a candid, personal article. "Honestly being a chef, I'm so used to being in control of everything and all of a sudden I have no control over anything in my life," she continued. "So this was a way for me to actually kind of take back a little bit of control for myself."

Now, Ali is making the most of her situation and spending her time with loved ones, including Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, who has been there for her during this tough time.

"[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."

Lakshmi recently gushed to ET about her friendship with Ali, raving that the chef is "an extraordinary young woman, she's very brave, she's very funny. My job is just to be there for her."

Ali also made an appearance on Friday's episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where the host surprised her with $50,000 to fulfill her dreams of traveling the world and eating at the best restaurants. 

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