The photograph, posted on Facebook, shows Ben and Jennifer Lindquist of Jamestown and their children, Branston and Kennedy, sitting in the bleachers, enjoying an evening at the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department Rodeo during the summer of 2011.
''This is my family,'' Ben writes in a comment below the picture.
What is obvious to me is how happy they all seem - their smiles are a dead giveaway - which makes me want to meet Ben's wife and kids all the more. I'll likely get that chance in a couple of months at the Willis Hale Town Park in Frewsburg. For on June 22 that locale will be the site for the ''1 Ball'' Wiffle Ball Tournament. The event is open to 24 teams - six people per team - and all proceeds will go toward the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation.
Testicular cancer survivors Ben Lindquist, left, and Kurt Johnson are preparing for the ‘‘1 Ball’’ Wiffle Ball Tournament to raise funds for the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation.
P-J photo by Scott Kindberg
It's an organization that Ben holds dear.
Formed in October 2009, the foundation's mission is to educate young men on the importance of early detection, and supporting those who are affected by the disease. While it's the leading cancer in men 15-35, it's hardly talked about.
Ben, a testicular cancer survivor, would like to change that.
''Once I realized I was going to be OK, that it wasn't life-threatening for me and I had my first child,'' said Ben, who was diagnosed in 2004 at the age of 25, ''I started talking about it more. I started to make it more public.
''I thought for a year, 'How can I spread the awareness more?'''
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In early 2004, Ben was a month away from heading to spring training for his sixth season as a professional baseball umpire. The world was his proverbial oyster. Athletic, healthy and about to begin his third year in Double-A, he appeared poised to continue his steady climb toward his ultimate goal - the major leagues.
But before Ben headed to Florida, Jennifer insisted that he have a physical.
''I'm healthy,'' Ben maintained. ''I'm fine.''
Jennifer, a registered nurse, persisted.
''Great,'' she said. ''Go to a doctor and let him tell you.''
Ultimately, Ben gave in and made the appointment. The exam was going well, Ben said, until Dr. Adnan Munir asked him to ''drop his pants and cough.''
''He did the check and my right testicle was much larger than the left,'' Ben recalled.
An ultrasound was scheduled and the test revealed the problem was actually with the left testicle, which had a lump the size of a ''frozen pea.''
''If we hadn't found it then,'' Ben said, ''it could have been too late.''
A second appointment was scheduled, Ben noted, this time with Dr. Ichabod Jung, a urologist at Western New York Urology, who said the growth could either be a cyst or a cancerous tumor. After 30 days of antibiotics, the lump had not decreased in size.
Three days away from leaving for spring training, Ben was just beginning the biggest fight of his life.
''I was gone from the first week in March to the first week in September and I didn't have any (health) problems or issues,'' he said. ''When I got home, I had an appointment and the ultrasound revealed the lump had tripled in size in six months.''
The ''frozen pea'' had grown to the size of a marble.
In October 2004, Ben had the surgery; the entire lump, although cancerous, was removed; and, because it had been detected early, he was only in stage one. That was obviously the news he wanted to hear. But as he was undergoing subsequent radiation treatments from Dr. Stanley Byun's office, Ben learned that he had been released as a professional umpire.
''I was at the bottom,'' he admitted.
But thanks to support from Jennifer - they would eventually marry in 2005 - family and friends, Ben persevered. Eight years of followup appointments later, he is now cancer free.
Kurt Johnson's story also has a happy ending.
The owner of Shawbucks on West Second Street in Jamestown, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1994, two weeks after signing a lease for the building that houses the performance venue and sports bar.
''I knew nothing about it,'' said Kurt, who was 28 at the time. ''I had no awareness about it at all.''
A sonogram was performed and just over a week later, after consulting with a couple of doctors, including Peter Walter of WNY Urology, Kurt had surgery. He ultimately ended up undergoing chemotherapy treatments at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo and now, 19 years later, he is a testicular cancer suvivor and the father of two young children.
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The cost to enter the ''1 Ball'' Wiffle Ball Tournament is $75 per team (a maximum of 24 teams) and each team is guaranteed three games in the round-robin format. T-shirts and field sponsors are also being sought. Players must be 21 or older.
To enter or to obtain more information, contact Ben Lindquist, the tournament director, at 499-8427 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Proceeds benefit the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation. More information is also available on Facebook at 1 Ball Wiffle Ball Tournament for Testicular Cancer.
''Jennifer and I used to throw a party at Christmas, but we talked about a summer party and the idea of rotating it around a wiffle ball tournament. I said if we're going to have a wiffle ball tournament, I want to raise money for something. A friend sent me a text a few weeks later, asking 'When is that wiffleball tournament?' The next thing you know, it's 'let's raise money for cancer' and then 'let's make it more specific, for testicular cancer awareness.'
''It's perfect. It's a one-ball wiffle ball tournament. How off the wall is that?''