Former Top Chef contestant Fatima Ali moved a lot of people with an essay, published this week, that explained cancer she thought she beat had returned with vengeance. Now, fellow chefs and fans are paying it forward – and helping to pay for Fatima’s foodie dreams. The chef wrote in her essay for Bon Appetit that she had once planned on opening her own restaurant – but her plan after learning her prognosis is to spend the rest of her life exploring the best foods the world has to offer.
Upon learning of Fatima’s dreams, dozens of fellow chefs, Top Chef hosts Padma Lakshmi and Gail Simmons, and countless fans, have donated to a GoFundMe created to help Fatima live out her dreams, or posted about the cause on social media. The fundraiser kicked off Wednesday, and has already raised nearly $60,000.
When you meet Fatima, you have to smile. She’s just really cool. She was in the SurvivorNet office a few months back, talking about doing cooking segments for people with cancer. “You have to remember, when you’re getting chemo it kills the taste buds,” said Fatima.
A lot of Americans got to know Fatima as one of the contestants on the popular TV show Top Chef. She was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma shortly after wrapping season 15 of the show. Now she says her cancer has come back in a terrible way – and she may only have months to live. When we met her, she was definitely in treatment, wearing a cool ski cap, but totally full of life – and super excited to teach other people about how to eat well during cancer.
Ewings Sarcoma is a rare cancer that grows in the bones or in the soft tissue around the bones. It is frequently found in children and young adults, but people of any age can be diagnosed with the disease.
It’s so hard to know what to do at times like this.
We are sending positive vibes.
We are happy Fatima is getting to make choices that give her some joy.