Ellen DeGeneres is helping Fatima Ali‘s dreams come true.
The Top Chef contestant revealed last month that her cancer had returned “with a vengeance” and that doctors told her she had about a year left to live, so she was going to spend it visiting the world’s best restaurants and crossing things off her bucket list. She accomplished one of her first goals when she got the chance to meet DeGeneres (and DJ tWitch) on her show.
In the clip above from Friday’s episode, Ali spoke of first receiving her diagnosis of the rare form of bone cancer Ewing’s Sarcoma last year. “It was obviously incredibly jarring,” she said. “It was the biggest shock of my life, but I knew that the only way I was going to beat this was through positivity and rallying the people around me.”
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. But in September, the chef said she felt “an ache in my left hip and I had this nagging feeling that something wasn’t right,” she told DeGeneres.
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The Top Chef fan-favorite went in for a PET scan and received the devastating news. “My doctors sat us and down, and they were like, ‘Look the cancer is back, it’s metastasized. The chemo has not worked,’” she recalled. “I looked at my doctor and I was like, ‘Tell me straight. How long do I have? He was like, ‘A year.’”
“It’s crazy,” she continued. “But life is crazy.”
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Ali said that while seeking treatment the past 14 months, she often found comfort in watching Ellen, so just getting to meet the host was a huge deal for her. But DeGeneres took things one step further when she gifted her “new best friend” with $50,000 courtesy of Shutterfly to help her travel the world.
Ali’s Top Chef costars previously set up a GoFundMe campaign. She will receive 100% of the money raised and anything she does not use will go towards the Sarcoma Foundation of America.
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