Going the Distance: One Man's Journey to the End of His Life

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9780679448433: Going the Distance: One Man's Journey to the End of His Life

In his posthumous memoir, one of the world's great master runners tells the honest and moving story of his battle against cancer and the final race of his life. A book for anyone touched by major illness or death, Going the Distance is an inspiring book by a man who wrote eloquently about the experience of living, of pushing to the limit as an athlete, and arriving at the finish line a changed person.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

When Sheehan (This Running Life, 1980, etc.) was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, he turned his physician's eye and writer's ear to the subject of his own mortality, producing this posthumous volume. Dr. Johnson once observed that knowing that death is imminent has a wonderful way of focusing the mind. Dr. Sheehan was never someone who had trouble focusing in his writing. One of the great apostles of running, he wrotes columns and books that were always wonderfully lucid explorations of the balance between body, mind, and spirit. Not surprisingly, this volume, tracing his final journey toward death from prostate cancer, is more of the same, only more intense. The book, he says in the introduction, really has three subjects: It's ``about what dying actually means to a person undergoing it . . . a communion with others experiencing dying. And . . . an evaluation of my life.'' The first essay clearly began as a rumination on turning 70, but when Sheehan received the diagnosis of his cancer, it was transmuted into a very different story. And an inspiring story it is. Sheehan is completely frank about the indignities of fatal illness--pain and painkillers, loss of appetite and unappetizing food, constant fatigue and a sudden loss of powers. He is also mercilessly honest in self-evaluation. Finally, he draws on a lifetime of reading and writing to produce a luminous examination of those larger questions that we don't really confront until we must. From Epictetus to William James, Unamuno to Thornton Wilder, Sheehan has a knack for finding the right thought and thinker. In 1993, he died at peace with himself and his life, and left behind this last glowing gift. Almost unbearably moving at times, a must-read book for anyone facing severe illness or loss. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Booklist:

Sheehan, the running cardiologist with several popular books on running to his credit, succumbed to prostate cancer in 1993. His account of approaching that eventuality combines self-reflection and observations on individual and social life. A loner, he speaks bluntly of relations with his family, betraying, some may feel, a selfishness that serves to indicate that he is human, after all, and no paragon. Sheehan says his early running was done to attain goals and set records, but in later years, he did it more to be with fellow runners. He also intriguingly observes that converts to running are driven by a desire to shorten periods of helplessness rather than to lengthen their lives. His account of his cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as their effects on his family and professional lives, is thought-provoking and, occasionally, refreshingly humorous. This is a fitting conclusion to Sheehan's writing on running and health that should please athletes, physicians, and patients alike. William Beatty

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