Title: Chief Complaint: Brain Tumor
Author: John Kerastas
Publisher: Sunstone Press
Purchase at Amazon
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. JOHN 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.
JOHN 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 work, he spends his time blogging (www.johnstumor.blogspot.com), speaking and writing about brain health, brain tumors and rehab.
Why blogging is important
I started blogging before I wrote my book; I blogged while writing my book; and I’ve continued to blog after my book’s been published. Here’s why:
1. To build my brand
2. To keep current
3. To improve my writing
4. To test drive ideas
While I think everybody now knows the importance of building a brand, I believe an important key to brand-building is consistency. Consistency is all about becoming known for a specific expertise/genre and consistently writing in that genre. For example, Malcolm Gladwell seems to have a knack for making behavioral science research appealing to the
masses. Laurence Gonzales is a whiz at exploring wilderness survivor stories. John Grisham writes modern legal thrillers. When I buy one of their books, because of the power and consistency of their brands, I know what I’m going to get. Likewise, blogging help’s me continue to strengthen my brand through a constant stream of postings about topics supportive of my brand.
I write about brain health, brain tumors and rehab. It’s an arena that is constantly changing and morphing with new medical protocols, new diets and new brain-building exercises constantly being invented and announced. If I didn’t make myself bang out 2 – 3 blog postings a week, I could easily lose my tenuous grip on this fast-moving business.
Blogging forces me to read and write about new research, discoveries and over-blown fads, i.e. while asparagus is very good for you, it won’t cure brain cancer (in spite of the thousands of postings saying it will/might/could/did for my relative).
Improving my writing
My most popular blog postings are both timely and pithy – http://www.johnstumor.blogspot.com/
That knowledge sets a bar at a height I didn’t have to jump when I wrote my book. Writing a book gave me the luxury of pages and page to explore an idea. Blog postings that leak into the 5 – 6 paragraph territory are on the cusp of lower readership. More importantly, when I review and rate my own writing, I find that, in almost every case, the shorter and tighter my writing, the better it is. Blogging forces me to write to that standard.
Test Driving New Ideas
Blogging is a nifty environment for experimentation. It also gives surprisingly quick feedback. I know when a topic – e.g. chia seeds and cancer – resonate with my audience because website hits went through the roof that same morning. Duds, like my blog posting entitled “How exercise grows new brain cells”, never got out of the basement.
At the same time, “who cares?” Unlike a book or magazine article, if a blog posting stinks, doesn’t attract any readership or honks off somebody, there’s always another posting tomorrow. But, if a book bombs, it’s the “elephant in the room” when talking to another publisher or editor.
And while my blog is a great laboratory for testing story ideas, it’s also an experimental environment for concocting different writing styles and viewpoints. I once used my blog to write about a Dr. Frankenstein-like day dream. It might be my personal favorite blog posting. As best I can tell, though, my followers hated it, or worse, ignored it as almost nobody read it.
Here’s two last benefits about blogging: it’s cheap (many are free) and easy. And you can build a blog site and be writing in minutes on sites like Google’s Blogger (www.blogger.com) or WordPress – http://wordpress.com/.