Ellen DeGeneres invited dying 'Top Chef' contestant to her show
Television host Ellen DeGeneres invited the 29-year-old "Top Chef" contestant Fatima Ali to her show and gave her the ultimate gift.
One of the things off Fatima's bucket list is to be on Ellen's show, so the popular TV host invited her recently.
Fatima, who competed in Season 15 of "Top Chef," said she would watch "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" while undergoing chemotherapy.
During the interview, Fatima also candidly talk about being diagnosed in 2017 with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in the bone or in soft tissue.
Follow us on our Twitter account, @amomama_usa, to learn more and scroll down to watch the full interview below.
"Right after filming Top Chef, it was supposed to be one of the most exciting times in my life. [Instead], I was in the hospital because I was newly diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma," she said.
"When I was diagnosed, it was obviously incredibly jarring. It was the biggest shock of my life. But, I knew the only way I was going to beat this was through positivity and rallying people around me."
Fatima added, "I am so looking forward to this next year, because I am surrounded with so much positivity. I'm so lucky to have friends and family like I do. We are going to be taking an entire tour of the world, eating all this absolutely delicious food. I know that's the only way to get through this."
When she finally met Ellen up close and personal, she recounted what a whirlwind the previous couple of years have been.
"Thanks to the fans, I won Fan Favorite...which some people say is better than winning the whole thing," she said. "So, I have that under my belt. Top Chef was absolutely incredible. I made wonderful friends. They've been so supportive through this entire journey."
Around two months after filming, Fatima noticed a dull ache in her shoulder. At first, she ignored it, but then she decided to get an MRI after months.
Fatima explained, "Within four hours, [my doctor] called me on my cell phone. He's like, 'Look, I hate to do this on the phone, but I don't want to waste any time. This could be something very serious."
"I feel like you should call some family to help you through it, because I'm going to refer you to an oncologist.' After we went to Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, I got my biopsy—and it came back that it was Ewings Sarcoma."
Fatima received support from host Padma Lakshmi and her fellow competitors. She's still hopeful she would beat the disease.
"In July I had clear scans. I was technically cancer-free," she said. However, after moving to Los Angeles, she noticed a "weird ache" in her left hip.
"I had this nagging feeling that something wasn't right. So, we went back to New York, got another PET scan and my doctors sat us down. They were like, 'Look, the cancer is back. It's metastasized. The chemo has not worked,'" she recounted. " I looked at my doctor and I was like, 'Tell me straight. How long do I have?' And he's like, 'A year.' It's a lot. It's crazy, but life is crazy."
Ellen praised Fatima's strength. "This is really hard. It's never fair. Anyone who is dealing with anything, you just think, 'This isn't fair.' But you get to live the way we're all supposed to live," she said.
"Who knows what tomorrow brings? You just so happen to have this diagnosis, but we all should be living like that, because none of us know what tomorrow is."
Fatima goes on to share her plans of living her last moments to the fullest. She said that she plans to visit many restaurants in Europe next year. Her dream destinations are France, Italy, South African, and Spain.
Fatima's friends created a GoFundMe page to help with her travel expenses, and a part of the donations will also go toward research for Ewing Sarcoma.
That's when Ellen told her that they want to be a part of assisting with her dream.
"Our friends at Shutterfly want to make sure you get to do everything you want to do—so they're giving you a check for $50,000 to help you out," the host said.
Fatima was overcome with emotion. "That's amazing!" she said. "Thank you so much!"