After losing both his parents just three years ago, MasterChef Junior star Ben Watkins faces another personal ordeal and grief.
The 13-year-old chef, who appeared in the sixth season of the hit culinary competition FOX, was recently diagnosed with a rare disease, according to GoFundMe, started by his grandmother and uncle.
Watkins is being treated for angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma, a soft tissue tumor commonly found in children and young adults. Watkins̵
On Thursday, Watkins’ uncle, Trent McCain, provided an update for fans and followers: Watkins began chemotherapy.
In September 2017, the ambitious chef lost both his parents – Layla Edwards and Mike Watkins in a murder-suicide, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Prior to his parents’ transition, Watkins helped at his family’s restaurant, which was even named after him – Big Ben’s Bodacious Barbecue, Bakery & Deli. Although the restaurant closed the month his parents died, the ambitious chef was still passionate about food.
That same year, the Miller Beach community (a neighborhood in Gary, Indiana where Watkins lives) rallied around him, raising more than $ 30,000 through fundraising.
“Despite all of Ben’s trials and tribulations, he remains positive and looks forward to returning to the kitchen and pursuing his dream of becoming an engineer,” #LoveFBM GoFundMe said at the time. “Community members came together to see that the life challenges that Ben went through (not) did not derail him to reach his full potential and fulfill his dreams.”
Watkins was one of 40 athletes, ages 8 to 13, in his season who tried to become a MasterChef Junior champion and win the grand prize of $ 100,000. Exactly 11 years old at the time, he ranked in the top 18.