During a doctor visit in the spring of 2013, Joe Baker underwent a series of routine tests. It was that appointment where a Urologist informed him that he had bladder cancer. Joe recalls, "Stage 2 is when you know you have it for sure. Stage 3 is when you're likely heading to the operating room. It was Stage 3, so my doctor decided it was best to remove my bladder as soon as possible, there were no other options."
At 82 years old, Joe was lucky enough to have very few experiences with surgery. He was semi-retired from a 40-year business career designing and manufacturing sports promotional vehicles. In July of 2013, he underwent urostomy surgery. "A few weeks later I was back at home in my own bed convalescing with this new thing protruding outside of my body called a stoma," he says. "Thankfully I was in good hands during recovery."
His wife Dona had 35 years of experience in the medical profession working as a surgical assistant and office manager for ophthalmologists in Florida and California. She’s also the founder and President of The Feral Cat Caretaker's Coalition. Dona taught hundreds of students and wrote several educational manuals on feeding, neutering, sheltering, and rescuing hungry homeless cats. Joe said, "Needless to say, we’ve had quite a few cats in our lives."
On the very first day back home from the hospital, one of their favorite cats named Sparky jumped onto Joe and landed directly on his stoma. The trauma of that incident “sparked” an idea which was the beginning of the StomaDome® brand. He co-founded the company with Mike Persichina, an associate from his manufacturing company who had years of marketing experience. With their combined efforts, StomaDome was successfully introduced to the U.S. and International markets.
StomaDome® is a light, reusable and super strong stoma guard. What makes StomaDome® so unique is that it attaches to the outside of an ostomy bag with adhesive Velcro, so there's no belt, no buckle, and no adjustments. At 7.2 grams (less than an ounce) the stoma guard is light, reusable and made with super strong injection molded polypropylene. Since launching the company less than one year ago, StomaDome® has been used by hundreds of ostomates.
"This year we’re excited to announce that StomaDome® is now part of the Happy Chemo Community," said Joe. Known as an ‘oxymoron on a mission’, HappyChemo.com connects thousands of cancer survivors and caregivers weekly to products, services, and resources provided by approved partners and organizations in the Happy Chemo! Network.
Bladder cancer has affected Joe in more ways than one. He said, "It was and still is one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, but thanks to having ostomy surgery I can live longer and enjoy life more. I’ve learned that patients can learn a great deal from one another, so I’m on a mission to serve the cancer community."