He was active and athletic, but his condition and inhibitions soon caused him to withdraw from school sports and activities.
For Baker, “Ulcerative colitis was physically demanding, but emotionally it was very difficult because I was embarrassed and self-conscious. I kept it in the closet and tried to hide it, which is a horrible thing to do, but I did.”
Due to increased absences from school, he dropped back a grade and ultimately finished high school over the phone. After enrolling in college, Baker soon found he could barely make it through class without having to go to the bathroom multiple times.
Twenty-seven years after his initial diagnosis, Baker was hiding his deteriorating condition from his loved ones and “missed out on much of life due to uncontrollable diarrhea.” He finally found the courage to call his doctor, who found a tumor the size of a golf ball and diagnosed him with colorectal cancer.
In 2006, Baker pedaled 217 miles over three days in the “Get your Guts in Gear” benefit bike ride, raising more than $11,000 for IBD research.
For Baker, the thought of getting an ostomy had been unthinkable. He began searching on the internet and found the Great Comebacks® Program website and the story of Rolf Benirschke. He recalls telling his wife, “If this guy can do it, I’ll be fine.”
After being sick for 27 years, Baker literally forgot what it was like to feel well. “Other than having children, having an ostomy was probably the best thing I’ve done in my life. It has given me my health, my freedom and it has given me purpose,” adds Baker.
“If this guy can do it,
I’ll be fine.”
In 2006, Baker pedaled 217 miles over three days in the “Get your Guts in Gear” benefit bike ride, raising more than $11,000 for IBD research. Baker plans to repeat the feat in 2007 with his son Jason and he was also recently selected to model in the 2007 Colondar, produced by The Colon Club.
Today, Baker resides in Washington Depot, Connecticut with his wife Diane and three children. He is Vice President of the United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA) and President of the Waterbury Area Ostomy Support Group. He credits his faith, family and the inspirational example of Rolf Benirschke for making his Great Comeback from a colectomy and ileostomy possible.
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