Nationwide — Ben Watkins, who became a fan favorite when he competed on Fox’s MasterChef Junior, has sadly died at the age of 14 after battling with a rare form of cancer for a year and a half.
He was diagnosed with Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma, a rare soft tissue tumor that usually occurs in children and young adults, last year before he turned 13.
Anthony Edwards, Ben’s uncle who took over legal guardianship after both his parents died in 2017, said Ben had a golf-sized tumor that grew into a grapefruit-sized mass in his neck. He underwent chemotherapy for the tumors on his lungs, spine, and shoulder at the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
“Despite all the pain and sickness Ben went through, he never complained, not once,” Edwards told the Chicago Tribune. “We were praying for a different outcome. But Ben’s lungs could no longer give him the air he needed to breathe. It’s been devastating.”
Ben’s death comes after both his parents were killed in a domestic violence incident in September 2017. His father reportedly shot and killed his mother and then himself. It happened just after Ben finished filming season six of MasterChef Junior, which was aired the following year.
Ben, who was then 11-years old, had been a fan favorite in the show. People across the country helped raise $30,000 as a trust fund for him.
Now, Ben is being remembered as a selfless and optimistic boy who even encouraged his doctor to continue writing a paper about his condition in hopes of finding ways so other kids wouldn’t have to experience the pain he underwent.
Moreover, a GoFundMe for Ben’s memorial fund has been set up. It has so far raised more than $200,000 of the $300,000 goal.
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