Chief Complaint: Brain Tumor Book Review

Title: Chief Complaint: Brain Tumor

Author: John Kerastas

Genre: Memoir

Publisher: Sunstone Press

Release Date: November 2012

Format: Paperback/Kindle

Pages: 136

About the Book:

At 57 years old, John Kerastas thought he was the poster child for fifty-year old healthiness: he competed in triathlons, rode in 100 mile biking events and ate a healthy diet chock full of organic vegetables. Then he discovered that he had a brain tumor the size of his wife’s fist. His memoir chronicles the first year he spent addressing tumor-related health issues: preparing for his first operation, discovering a dangerous skull infection, having the infected portion of his skull surgically removed, learning about his substantial vision and cognitive losses, undergoing rehab and radiation treatments, and learning to live with his ”new normal.” According to Kerastas, the phrase ”new normal” is the medical community’s code words for ”You’re alive, so quit complaining.” As his health changed, so did his sense of humor. He writes that his humor started out superficially light-hearted prior to the first operation; transmogrified into gallows humor after several subsequent operations; and leveled out as somewhat wry-ish after radiation and rehab. This is a surprisingly upbeat and inspiring book for anybody interested in memoirs about people dealing with personal crises, for patients trudging through rehab, for caretakers helping victims of serious illnesses, or for anybody looking for an unexpected chuckle from an unlikely subject.

AmazonMy Review:

There were many times while reading Chief Complaint: Brain Tumor in which I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.  That is because John Kerastas tells the story of his run-in with a rather tenacious tumor in a particularly irreverent vein.

Kerastas uses large doses of “gallows humor” to tell his story.  I appreciated this style, because I have found in dealing with the trials of my own life that laughing about a situation is usually better than crying about it.  Recently, Boo and I riffed on the “seven dwarves of asthma”: Sneezy, Coughy, Gaspy, Chokey, Wheezy, Snotty and Phlegmy. So you can see why I would enjoy this book.

The book details Kerastas’ stages of dealing with his catastrophic news:

  1. Hope it will go away
  2. Face It
  3. Joke About It
  4. Plan for a Potential Future Without You
  5. Recovery

What struck home with me was when John and his wife were trying to decide how to tell people about his tumor and upcoming surgery.  John said of this time:

I think I learned that a health issue isn’t something to be hidden or to be embarrassed about. If they are really your friends, they want to know at the earliest moment. If they aren’t your friends, don’t worry about what they think.”

I have found this statement to be true of any life changing moment in one’s life.  My true friends are the ones that have stood by me through all of the cataclysmic events of the past few years.  I wish I had told them what was going on sooner.  Their support has been amazing and I could have used it sooner.

Chief Complaint: Brain Tumor is a book for anyone who has suffered or is suffering with massive upheaval in their life, especially if they appreciate a little humor with their trauma.

I give Chief Complaint: Brain Tumor five scalpels – a must read!!!

About the Author:

brain tumor book review

John W. Kerastas has worked at a global advertising agency, at several technology start-up companies and as a free-lance writer. Now, in addition to non-profit and charitable work, he spends his time blogging, speaking and writing about brain health, brain tumors and rehab.

Follow him on website/Facebook/Goodreads

Buy it on Amazon.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of review through Charisma Media Network.  All opinions are 100% my own.