After losing both parents just three years ago, “MasterChef Junior” star Ben Watkins faces another personal trial and tribulation.
The 13-year-old chef, who appeared in the sixth season of the hit FOX culinary contest, was recently diagnosed with a rare disease, according to a GoFundMe initiated by his grandmother and uncle.
Watkins is being treated for angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma, a soft tissue tumor that typically occurs in children and young adults. Watkins ’loved ones claim she is one of six people in the world to receive such a rare diagnosis. She is currently undergoing treatment at Lurie Children̵7;s Hospital in Chicago.
On Thursday, Watkins ’uncle, Trent McCain, provided an update for fans and followers: Watkins began doing chemotherapy.
In September 2017, the aspiring chef lost both parents, Leila Edwards and Mike Watkins, in a suicide murder, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Before passing his parents, Watkins helped his family’s restaurant, which even got its name: Big Ben’s Bodacious Barbecue, Bakery & Deli. Even though the restaurant closed the month his parents died, the aspiring chef was still passionate about food.
That year, the Miller Beach community (a neighborhood in Gary, Indiana where Watkins lived) gathered around him, raising more than $ 30,000 through fundraisers.
“Despite all of Ben’s trials and tribulations, he remains positive and hopes to return to the kitchen and pursue his dream of becoming an engineer,” GoFundMe # Love4Ben stated at the time. “Community members have come together to see that the challenges of life that Ben has gone through (not) stop him from reaching his full potential and fulfilling his dreams.”
Watkins was one of 40 contestants, ages 8 to 13, in his season who pledged to become the “MasterChef Junior” champion and win the $ 100,000 grand prize. At just 11 years old at the time, he placed in the top 18.