'Masterchef Junior' Alum Ben Watkins Dies Aged 14 | 22 Words

Heartbreaking news just in.

14-year-old Masterchef Junior star, Ben Watkins has passed away.

via: YouTube

And the whole country is grieving.

The young boy was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.

via: Getty

At just 13-years-old.

We are a long way off from finding an official cure for cancer...

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And the numbers of those being diagnosed with the illness keep on rising every year. In 2019, an estimated 1.8 million cases of cancer were diagnosed in the United States alone.

And, out of those diagnosed with the devastating illness...

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An estimated 606,880 sadly passed away.

These numbers are simply heartbreaking.

via: Getty

Medical researchers have been working hard for decades to find a cure for the illness and, so far, they have had no luck.

So, for now, we continue to hear more devastating cases of the disease...

via: Getty

And, more often than not, they involve children.

Now, this brings us back to the case of Ben Watkins.

Ben Watkins gained viral fame when he starred in the sixth season of MasterChef Junior, at the age of eleven-years-old.

Ben, from Gary, Indiana, was an exceptionally talented cook for a boy so young...

And, after impressing the panel of celebrity judges comprised of Gordon Ramsay, Christina Tosi, and Aarón Sanchez, he eventually made it to the top eighteen.

But, sadly, Ben had a harrowing past.

In September 2017, his father, Michael Watkins, forty-six, shot and killed Ben’s mother Leila, forty-three, before taking his own life in their home, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The tragedy occurred while Ben was filming for MasterChef Junior...

And his grandmother and uncle now serve as his legal guardians.

However, 3 years on from the devastating incident...

Ben received some damning news about his own health.

Just days after his thirteenth birthday, Ben was diagnosed was an incredibly rare tumor, Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma.

via: Getty

AFH is a rare soft tissue tumor that mostly occurs in children and young adults.

This type of cancer is that rare...

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That Ben was "one of only 6 people in the entire world" to have it, his grandmother revealed in their announcement.

The treatments vary...

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But these tumors are usually treated with surgical excision and possible follow-up chemotherapy.

Ben's family confirmed that he started chemotherapy at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago...

via: GoFundMe

And they also launched a GoFundMe page to help cover his medical costs and education fees for the future.

The description on the page read:

"Ben is an aspiring chef and opened Big Ben's Bodacious BBQ and Delicatessen in the Miller Community of Gary, Indiana with his late parents, Leila Edwards and Mike Watkins... 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."

They explained that, despite his diagnosis, Ben remained positive.

"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."

They didn't want his illness to stall his dreams.

"We want Ben to be able to continue his education in the culinary arts and/or Engineering wherever he wants to in the world. On behalf of Grandma Donna and Uncle Anthony, thank you for your #Love4Ben!"

News of his death has hit hard.

via: GoFundMe

Rest in peace, Ben. As this difficult year comes to a close, let's take a second to remember those that we have lost.