MasterChef Australia’s Minoli De Silva reveals the moment she found out her cancer had returned

"It was probably the day that had the biggest high and the biggest low I ever had"
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She’s been described as the “flavour queen” by MasterChef Australia fans – and Minoli De Silva has certainly lived up to the hype so far on the Fans & Favourites season, returning to the iconic kitchen for a second shot at the title. While she’s thrilled to be back, the 35-year-old contestant has revealed the amazing opportunity came at one of her toughest moments.

WATCH: Minoli De Silva on MasterChef 2022

On the same day that she got the phone call to return to MasterChef, she found out 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,” Minoli told The Project hosts on Tuesday night.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

Minoli was first diagnosed with stage 3A triple positive breast cancer in 2017 and underwent egg preservation, a lumpectomy, six months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiotherapy. The second time around in 2021, Minoli was diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) but “due to the location of the cells,” found out that chemotherapy, radiotherapy or lumpectomy wasn’t an option.

After great deliberation, Minoli decided on a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

The day Minoli found out she was returning to MasterChef was the day she found out her cancer had returned. (Credit: 10)

In an op-ed for MamamiaMinoli has opened up further about the heartbreaking moment she learned of her diagnosis.

“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 writes 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 had to choose between a uni versus bilateral mastectomy and ended up deciding on the latter, saying her “gut” told her that it was the best choice for her health.

Following a 12 hour surgery, Minoli spent three weeks “feeling like an octopus” with drain tubes across four surgery sites. With weeks of recovery to go through, the contestant reveals she had “one week to chill” before MasterChef began. 

“If I can beat breast cancer twice, I reckon I can do anything,” she says of her positive attitude heading back to the show.

“I felt overwhelmed, helpless, angry, sad, and broken,” Minoli writes of her (Credit: Instagram)

Fans fell in love with Minoli in Season 13, where she came in 10th after cooking impressive dishes like Anthony Hart’s Chocolate Oasis for the judges.

She previously opened up about her love of cooking last year, revealing she was inspired to be more creative in the kitchen following her first cancer diagnosis. A side effect of her treatment the first time around had been losing her sense of taste.

When my sense of taste started to return it happened really gradually, so I was was only able to reintroduce foods that kind of worked with my palate, really fresh food, and slowly slowly build up all the different spices that I was able to eat,” Minoli told news.com last year.

“Post-treatment, I was always really present when I ate. I was mindful eating food and being so conscious of what I was doing, because I had to learn to be conscious,” she said. “It was like introducing food into a child’s diet and the child going ‘Ooh, what’s this’.”

Minoli was back in the MasterChef kitchen weeks after surgery. (Credit: 10)

Already impressing the judges and viewers this season, Minoli is one to watch!

MasterChef Australia airs Sunday to Thursday, 7:30pm, on 10 and 10Play.

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