Top Chef alum Fatima Ali penned a powerful essay about life and her battle with Ewing's sarcoma just three months before she passed away from the rare form of bone cancer.
The essay, posthumously publish in Bon Appétit to "share her perspective and honor her memory" just two days after news of her passing broke, began with a reflection of Ali's childhood in Pakistan and her introduction to cooking. Ali then went on to reflect on her diagnosis, which came in the midst of filming the cooking competition in 2017.
"Honestly, until your first chemo cycle, I don't think it really hits you," she wrote. "Then your hair starts falling out, and finally you're like, 'This is actually happening. This is the rest of my life' I did eight rounds of chemo. It was horrible, but at the end, my scans were all clear. I thought I'd beaten it. Then it came back. Worse than before. It was metastatic. It had spread to my lungs. The doctors told me I had a year to live."
The Top Chef alum went on to explain that her cancer diagnosis allowed her to live life to the fullest.
"I'm using cancer as the excuse I needed to actually go and get things done, and the more people I share those thoughts with, the more I hold myself to them," she explained. "If I write this intention down, if I have it printed somewhere like I do here, I have to hold myself responsible, because I have people counting on me."
"What is my intention? To live my life. To fulfill all those genuine dreams I have," she continued. "It's easy to spend weeks in my pajamas, curled up in my bed, watching Gossip Girl on Netflix. I could totally do that. And don't get me wrong, I still watch Gossip Girl. But now I'm doing things. I'm going out to eat. I'm making plans for vacations. I'm finding experimental treatments. I'm cooking. I'm writing."
Ali concluded the essay by admitting how "exceptionally afraid" she is some days.
"There are days that I'm exceptionally afraid. There are days I sit alone and cry, because I don't want to do it in front of my family," Ali wrote. "And there are other days that we all sit down and cry together, because it is such a scary thing. But at the same time, you can't let that fear cripple you. It's harder being miserable than it is to be happy."
Ali passed away at her family's home in San Marino, California on Friday, Jan. 25. She was 29.