121025-book coverReviewed by Sara Padilla

Troubled by deteriorating vision, 57-year-old John Kerastas visited the doctor somewhat reluctantly. He wasn’t too worried. Physically fit, Kerastas enjoyed cycling, running and swimming and healthy eating, and he and his equally healthy wife had until then experienced no major health issues. Suddenly and clearly, medical tests revealed that the author had a brain tumor that required critical and immediate intervention.

Shocked, Kerastas launched into planning for the worst case scenario as well as navigating the till then unknown and complex health care system. Chief Complaint: Brain Tumor describes the first year experience of diagnosis and treatment of a serious medical issue with a direct, no-nonsense approach. Throughout the story he maintains a sense of humor that reveals his ability to handle anything life throws toward him, while also tenderly acknowledging painful and emotional moments such as when he cries upon seeing the surgeon who removed the brain tumor post operation. Following surgery, he returns home to recuperate while surrounded by loved ones. Things are looking up until infection lands him back in the hospital, where he is given heavy antibiotics and told to prepare for a second operation.

While he isn’t the most eloquent writer, Kerastas does a fine job describing the strange and surreal experience while in the hospital being treated for a life-threatening condition. Friends visit and send messages that are well intended and sometimes surprising. The author is grateful for the support and also isn’t shy about asking tough questions of trusted friends – including his minister – who aren’t always ready for his wit and directness. While continuing to remain optimistic, he also admits to being in pain and tired of the hospital. As the story continues, his sense of humor fades just a bit. He goes home with a vexing, beeping mini-computer, medication and IV, instructions on how to use them, and the challenges involved in healing are described in detail.

When Kerastas describes the final steps of treatment that he endures toward the end of this book, he gives readers a real look at the frightening, yet amazing procedures that exist to treat a brain tumor, including a custom-made skull and lengthy radiation treatments. It is a story that longs for a part two, and one that in the end gives readers a sense of hope, reality and strength.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Ms. Sara Padilla is a freelance writer and maintains a personal blog on family, health and wellness. She resides in the Pacific Northwest.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by John Kerastas. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.