Things That Matter

Ben Watkins Of ‘MasterChef Junior’ Has Died From A Rare Form Of Cancer

The “MasterChef Junior” family is sadly in mourning.

Ben Watkins, a fan-favorite contestant on the show for children who love to cook, has died. Watkins was just 14. He passed away on Monday, after a year-long battle of fighting a rare form of cancer.

According to Chicago Tribune Watkins passed away after struggling with a rare form of cancer for a year and a half.

MasterChef Junior/ FOX

Just three years after Watkins lost both of his parents to a domestic violence incident, the teen’s family is being forced to say ‘goodbye’ to him. Watkins uncle Anthony Edwards and grandmother Donna Edwards issued a statement on Monday that said their beloved family member had gone “home to be with his mother.”

“After losing both of his parents in September 2017, we have marveled at Ben’s strength, courage and love for life. He never, ever complained. Ben was and will always be the strongest person we know. When Ben’s rare illness was shared with the world, he was so heartened by the outpouring of love he received from every corner of the globe–especially here in his hometown of Gary, Indiana,” the statement, which was shared on a GoFundMe campaign page, stated. “We cannot thank this community enough for holding our family up in prayer and for all that you’ve done. Ben suffered more than his share in his fourteen years on this Earth but we take solace in that his suffering is finally over and in that, in the end, Ben knew he was loved by so many. #Love4Ben.”

Watkins was diagnosed last year with Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma, just days before his 13th birthday.

MasterChef Junior

Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma is a rare soft tissue cancer. It occurs in only a small number of children and young adults and is characterized by cystic blood-filled spaces and made up of histiocyte-like cells.

“Young Ben is one of only six people in the entire world diagnosed with this illness. Ben is currently undergoing treatment at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Despite all of Ben’s trials and tribulations, he remains positive and looks forward to getting back in the kitchen and pursuing his dream to become an Engineer.   Members of the community have joined together to see that the life challenges that Ben has gone through does not derail him from reaching his full potential and fulfilling his dreams,” the statement concluded.

According to Chicago Tribune, Watkin’s had a golf-ball-sized tumor in his neck that had grown into a grapefruit-sized mass. Watkins underwent chemotherapy treatment for tumors located on his lungs, spine, and shoulder.

“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.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, “When Ben was first diagnosed, one of his doctors began writing a medical paper on Ben’s rare disease. Adhering to privacy rules, the doctor didn’t use Ben’s name. You can use my name,” Ben told the doctor. ‘Do whatever it takes. I don’t want another kid to have to go through what I’m going through.’ Ben and his family also consented for tissue to be extracted from his cancerous tumors after his death, to be shared with researchers. By doing so, Ben’s altruistic legacy will continue in the medical community as well as in his family.”

Speaking about his nephew, Edwards told Chicago Times that “Ben will always be our superhero.”

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