Fatima Ali was a fan favorite during her season on Top Chef. On Friday, the New York City chef passed away at the age of 29 from a rare form of cancer called Ewings Sarcoma. Before her passing, she penned an emotional essay for Bon Appetit.

The Top Chef Colorado contestant finished seventh during her season, but was voted the fan favorite. After taping for the season wrapped up, Fatima was diagnosed with cancer in 2017.

After fighting and going through chemo, Ali thought she was in the clear. She wrote, “Until your first chemo cycle, I don’t think it really hits you. Then your hair starts falling out, and finally you’re like, ‘This is actually happening.’ 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.”

Despite that diagnosis, she vowed to live her life to the fullest. She said, “I’m still very lucky to be able to do a lot of the things that I love.” She added, “What is my intention? To live my life. To fulfill all those genuine dreams I have,” she wrote. “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.”

She wrote, “I decided not to spend whatever time I had left (whether it’s a year, a month, another ten years – you don’t know until you’re gone) lamenting all the things that weren’t right. Instead, I’d make the most of it. 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.”

While it’s hard to read these words at times, especially since she was only 29 years old, the Top Chef star did share some wise words with her fans. She continued: “There are days that I’m exceptionally afraid. … But at the same time, you can’t let that fear cripple you. It’s harder being miserable than it is to be happy.”

Our thoughts go out to Fatima’s friends and family during this difficult time.

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