TOP CHEF -- Season:15 -- Pictured: Fatima Ali -- (Photo by: Tommy Garcia/Bravo)
October 09, 2018 02:15 PM

After undergoing surgery to remove a tumor in her shoulder bone in January, former Top Chef contestant Fatima Ali has revealed that her cancer has returned.

In an emotional essay for Bon Appetit, Ali, 29, writes that “the cancer cells my doctors believed had vanished are back with a vengeance in my left hip and femur bone,” adding that her oncologist told her she likely has “a year to live, with or without the new chemotherapy regimen.”

The New York City-based chef was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, shortly after competing in season 15 of the Bravo competition show which was filmed in Colorado. Host Padma Lakshmi was there with her in the hospital as she prepared for her surgery, calling on prayers from fans on Instagram and saying she was “hoping for a great outcome.”

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Padma Lakshmi Instagram

Following her surgery, Ali told PEOPLE at the Aspen Food & Wine Festival in July that she was “technically cancer-free” but was undergoing two additional months on chemotherapy to help prevent it from returning.

Ali details her plans for the future in the Bon Appetit essay, acknowledging that she is “scared” but has “an odd sense of relief” following the new diagnosis. “I can finally live for myself, even if it’s just for a few precious months,” she writes.

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While she previously told PEOPLE that she “most certainly” planned on opening a restaurant of her own, she is now focused on eating at the world’s most-acclaimed restaurants, including the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare and two-Michelin-starred Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Every day is a new opportunity to experience something new,” she writes. “I’m sketching a plan to eat my way through New York and the boroughs while I can.”

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