MasterChef’s Minoli Opens Up About Being Diagnosed With Breast Cancer For the Second Time

Network Ten

Ever since Minoli De Silva graced our screens last year on MasterChef Australia, fans of the show can’t seem to get enough of the flavour queen. While she didn’t take home the prize in 2021, she’s returned to the series for the second time this year for Fans & Favourites, and she’s already a force to be reckoned with.

While she’s thrilled to be back, the 35-year-old cook spoke candidly about how the opportunity came during one of her toughest moments. On the same day Channel 10 came knocking at her door, she was told her breast cancer had returned.

“It was probably the day that had the biggest high and the biggest low I ever had. It seemed surreal,” she said on The Project. “In the morning I got a call from my doctor and he told me that the breast cancer had come back from an ultrasound that happened a week ago and I cried more tears than I can remember crying in a long time.

“Then, MasterChef calls me up in the afternoon and it was like, ‘We’ve got some news that might be really shocking’. I didn’t say anything and they told me I had got a chance to come back into the MasterChef kitchen.”

After being diagnosed with stage 3A triple-positive breast cancer in 2017, Minoli underwent egg preservation, a lumpectomy, six months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiotherapy. In 2021, she was diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) but “due to the location of the cells,” was told chemotherapy, radiotherapy and lumpectomy weren’t an option.

After thinking it over, Minoli chose to undergo a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. 

The reality TV show contestant went into greater detail in an op-ed for Mamamia, opening up about the heartbreaking moment she found out her cancer had returned.

“I felt overwhelmed, helpless, angry, sad, and broken. The more I thought about it, the more embarrassed I got about potentially losing my breasts. They made me feel like a woman,” she wrote for Mamamia

“You know that annoying voice in your head that makes you doubt yourself? That voice was telling me I wasn’t woman enough because I had breasts that didn’t look like that of any woman in a magazine. I felt like I was hiding a deformity and doing a very good job of it. It’s a strange feeling to not feel womanly.”

Minoli was given two options: A uni versus bilateral mastectomy. She ended up going for the latter as her “gut” had told her it was the best choice for her health. After a 12 hour surgery, the cook admitted to “feeling like an octopus” with drain tubes across four surgery sites. It took weeks to recover, and she only had “one week to chill” before entering the MasterChef Australia kitchen.

“If I can beat breast cancer twice, I reckon I can do anything,” she wrote.

De Silva continued: “I’ve shed myself of all the rules society has placed on me, and I feel powerful. I feel strong. I use my moral compass to drive my decisions and have learnt to listen to the authentic me. My body is just a vehicle for my soul, and what’s inside is what truly counts. I have scars that I love more than ever and feel womanlier [sic] than I’ve ever felt in my life.”

“I always tear up knowing how much love I have put into myself, and how much space that has given me to share my love with others. I am so excited for what life holds in store but first, let’s get into the MasterChef kitchen and give it a red hot go, shall we?”

Want more MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favourites? Read all of our stories here.

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