“I Didn’t Tell Anyone” Why Minoli Kept Her Cancer Diagnosis a Secret on MasterChef Australia

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On last night’s episode of MasterChef Australia, viewers said goodbye to Favourite Minoli De Silva, and to say we were shattered is an understatement. The cook, who first entered the kitchen last year, is best known for her explosive flavours and all-round positive attitude, no matter what comes her way.

However, behind the smile is a story of strength of determination. Many people may not know that the same day she was offered the chance to return to MasterChef Australia for the second time, she found out her breast cancer had returned.

“I got a call from my doctor and got a call from MasterChef on the same day and I immediately realised that I wanted to do MasterChef, and that was something that had given me so much joy in the past,” Minoli told POPSUGAR Australia.

“To my surgeon, I said, ‘look, this is the deal. I know I have to go through this’ and was very pragmatic about it which made the decision so easy,” she recalled. “But at the same time, I was like, ‘I don’t really have much time before I go on MasterChef, will I be okay?’ and my doctor moved heaven and earth to do the surgery, and I came out of it, got better and had about a week’s gap [before MasterChef].”

It was an empowering experience, one that motivated her to push her limits while on the show. “I focused and I was so driven because I wanted to be on MasterChef, and it was nice wanting something so much.”

Minoli’s battle with breast cancer was something she chose to keep to herself while taking part in the competition, with only two contestants knowing about her diagnosis: Alvin and Billie.

“At the start of the cook, I didn’t tell anyone that I had gone through the double mastectomy before I went on,” she shared, adding: “I just really wanted it to be about me and my cooking.

“I didn’t want any pity, I just wanted to show people that I was there because I’m a good cook,” she said. “It was only Alvin and Billie who knew towards the end. I know people watching knew from the start, but no one on the show knew.”

In an op-ed for Mamamia published in April, Minoli opened up about her battle with breast cancer and went into detail about treatments, her headspace at the time and her reasoning behind why she chose to return to MasterChef Australia

It was then that her fellow MasterChef competitors found out.

“It’s really big, life-changing stuff,” she explained. “And I feel like when you’re in a competition, I just really wanted to respect everyone’s right to do their own thing. I got really close with Alvin and Billie, and we became really close friends, so they were the only two people who knew. But everyone found out when the public found out.”

Despite leaving the competition for the second time, Minoli is showing no signs of slowing down. Having just opened a restaurant in her hometown of Darwin named Ella By Minoli, the cook is investing all her time and energy in to making her dreams into a reality.

“I’m working very hard on creating a place where I would like to go and eat. I really just love having an experience when I dine, and I’m hoping anyone who walks through those doors gets hit with this air of homeliness and warmth,” she said. “We had a soft opening last week, and the first night was literal mayhem. It was a full restaurant, doing a practise run and it was just fun!”

MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favourites airs at 7.30pm on Channel 10 and 10 Play On Demand.

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

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