Terminally Ill Top Chef Alum Fatima Ali Has a 'Bittersweet Reunion' with Season 15 Contestants
Top Chef‘s season 15 contestants are leaning on each other to get through a difficult time.
The group of cheftestants, who appeared on the Bravo show last winter, came together this week in Los Angeles to show support for their fellow cast member Fatima Ali.
Fatima, 29, has been battling an aggressive and rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma for more than a year. She recently revealed that her health was declining on Instagram, which prompted the group to meet up for the “bittersweet reunion.”
After posing together in a group photo, which included Adrienne Cheatham, Tyler Anderson, Bruce Kalman, Tanya Holland, Claudette Wilkins, Carrie Baird, Rogelio Garcia, Chris Scott, Tu David Phu, Joe Sasto, and Melissa Perfit, many of the former contestants shared the image on Instagram and wrote messages of support to Fatima.
“These people are my people. Hard to explain the bonds that happen during our time together,” Claudette captioned the two group shots.
“I wish they under better circumstances that we were together but when one hurts we all hurt and we rally. @cheffati is loved beyond belief and we will be here for her and each other,” she added.
“A bittersweet reunion,” wrote Tanya. “Our dear @cheffati is the glue…we are bonded forever now.”
“So happy to see you this week @cheffati… praying for you…🙏🏽” added Rogelio. “when one of us hurts we all hurt… The friends that became Family”
Chris kept it short and simple, captioning his group photo: “Season 15 strong,” and added several hashtags, including one that read #WeGetByWithALittleHelpFromOurFriends
In a separate post featuring Fatima holding Joe Flamm’s son, Luka William, Bruce noted how the group traveled from all over the country for their friend.
“We all came together, flew in from as far as Alaska, to see this beautiful lady, and got to have some laughs with her,” the Los Angeles-based chef wrote. “We love you so very much @cheffati”
The reunion comes less than a week after Fatima posted on her Instagram account for the first time in a month and gave her followers an update on her health.
“I know it’s been ages since I posted and most may have figured out why,” she wrote on selfie of herself in what appears to be a hospital. “I’m sick and unfortunately I’m getting sicker.”
“Right now all I need are prayers; prayers that are simple,” she wrote. “I hope, because a wish is putting on too much responsibility on the other, that you will somehow find forgiveness in your big heart for whenever I must have hurt you.”
“I thank you a million times over for when you have given me joy,” Fatima continued. “I’ll try to keep everyone updated the best that I possibly can.”
In October, Fatima had revealed that her cancer had returned “with a vengeance” and that doctors told her she had about a year left to live. Ellen DeGeneres gifted her with $50,000 courtesy of Shutterfly to help her spend her last year living out her dream of visiting the world’s best restaurants.
In addition to Ellen, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, who was with Fatima when she had one of her first surgeries, commented on her latest update that she intended to be there for her again. “I’m coming Boo!” she wrote. “Hold on tight.”
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In an emotional essay for Bon Appetit in October, Fatima wrote that she was “scared” but had “an odd sense of relief” following her diagnosis.
“I can finally live for myself, even if it’s just for a few precious months,” she wrote. “Every day is a new opportunity to experience something new.”