WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Faith Overcomes Fear for Stroke-Stricken Pediatrician

Oct 8, 2018

Dr. B.S. Kesavan became a much-beloved pediatrician during his four decades in Galesburg.  A stroke sidelined him a couple years ago. It left him wondering what he should do and how he might recover.

“When I got sick, the first thing (I thought was), ‘Why me?’ Then I thought, ‘Why not?’” said Kesavan.

So he decided to turn the negative experience into a positive one by committing his life’s story to paper.  The result is the book Healing the Mind with Faith, Friendship, and Love – The True Story of a Stroke Survivor.

Kesavan said he is 99% recovered from the stroke, and he said writing his memoir aided in his recovery.

“This is mental therapy.  It is a healing therapy. I didn’t focus on my disease. It motivated me,” he said.

Kesavan said his book delivers three interconnected messages:

  • Never give up – always have hope
  • Fear is the absence of faith
  • Friendship and love can help you overcome any difficult situation

“The book has 12 chapters. And for each chapter, I have a quotation for people to read and get inspiration.  I don’t have any negative things in the book. Everything is positive,” Kesavan said.

The Gang of Four

Kesavan said he grew up in India.  He attended medical school there and became close friends with three classmates.  They nicknamed themselves the “Gang of Four.” They wanted to spread their wings after they finished medical school so they moved to the United States.

“All the other kids wanted to stay there and be a little more safe.  We wanted to fly. So that’s the reason – because of the friendship and the motivation. And do something different with no fear,” he said.

The Gang of Four members went their separate ways once in the U.S.  Kesavan came to Galesburg in 1976 and served as a pediatrician until he retired a year ago while still recovering from the stroke.

The line snaked through the Cottage Hospital lobby for Dr. Kesavan's book signing.
Credit Rich Egger

Still Popular After All These Years

Kesavan returned to Cottage Hospital in late August, 2018 to hold a book signing in the hospital’s lobby.  People lined up to chat with him, buy a book or two, and have the books signed. Some people brought copies they had already purchased, but Kesavan still sold so many copies at the book signing that he ran out.  He promised to get more copies, sign the books, and mail them to those who left empty-handed.

Ruth Anne Hanlon of Galesburg was one of the lucky people who arrived in time to make a purchase.  In fact, she bought three copies – one for each of her sons, all of whom were cared for by Dr. Kesavan when they were children.

“My second son has a very rare disease – tuberous sclerosis complex. And Dr. Kesavan got us to the right expert in St. Louis and gave him a quality of life that he might not have had,” said Hanlon. 

She said Kesavan also quickly diagnosed spinal meningitis in her youngest son when the boy was just ten days old.  She said the quick diagnosis was a game-changer for the boy.  Hanlon said her son is now 38 and doing 100% fine.

“All of our boys love him,” said Hanlon, who added Kesavan is not only a wonderful doctor but he is a wonderful man. “His kindness and love and intelligence speaks for itself.”

Even in retirement, Kesavan is still helping children. He said all the profits from sales of his book will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for pediatric cancer research and treatment.