Fully endoscopic micro-surgery puts a former Jr. Olympic athlete back on the marathon trail

LOS ANGELES (October 12, 1999) -- Thanks to state-of-the-art technology and some of the most advanced capabilities in the United States, brain surgery to remove pituitary tumors is now being done fully endoscopically and with outstanding results. Ken Baker, the San Francisco correspondent for PEOPLE Magazine, a former member of A U.S. Jr. Olympic Hockey Team, and a Division I college athlete who attended Colgate University on a hockey scholarship, had a nearly golf ball-sized pituitary tumor removed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Skull Base Institute on July 8,1998.

On Dec. 5, 1999, slightly less than 17 months later, Baker, age 29, will do something he hasn't done since 1992. He will run a marathon. And not just any marathon. This is the California International Marathon in Sacramento, a qualifying run for the Boston Marathon. Baker is calling his run "The Tread for Head" and is using the marathon to increase awareness of pituitary tumors and to raise money for a special fund at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Skull Base Institute for those who can't afford tumor-removal surgery.

"Before the tumor, I would have been focusing on speeds and times," he says."Now I'll be happy just to finish. It's great to be alive!"

Baker, who had the undiagnosed tumor at the base of his brain for at least 10 years, describes the period from 1992 to 1998 (starting just after he ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC) as a "six-year blackhole."

A lifelong athlete, he then began experiencing severe headaches, had little strength and no stamina. "I could do hardly anything physical," he says. Although he had been planning to re-run the Marine Corps Marathon in 1994 and had paid entrance fees, he was too fatigued and abandoned training a few months before that race.

Then in October, 1997, after transferring to the Los Angeles bureau of PEOPLE, his tumor was diagnosed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Medical intervention began, but it soon became apparent

Contact: Sandra Van
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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