A psychiatrist shares his experience of how running has been a constant for him throughout life’s changes.



Two-and-a-half years ago, a CT scan ordered for another purpose quite unexpectedly revealed a tangerine-sized lung tumor. The tumor had obviously been growing for a long time, but it was causing no symptoms—not even a cough. Surgery was not completely successful. The genotyping suggested that it was a rare type, but a targeted kinase inhibitor might help.

After 15 months, it does seem to be keeping my cancer in check. However, my terrific oncologist has been clear with me from the start that the tumor will eventually grow again and win.

For the past 30 years, I have been writing poetry. For the past 2 years, many of my poems have had to do with either valuing life or the experience of having a terminal cancer. Some might call this a distraction. I see it as sharing me.


Running has been different

In different phases of my life.

My nose did it most in infancy.

In childhood, when I felt hurt or unloved,

There was running away.

In adolescence, I needed running shoes for races

And cleats for running bases.

In my adult years, when careless,

There was running out of gas

And running for office when I felt ambitious.

Being a conscientious person,

My goal was always running on time.

In my old age, running’s come full circle.

My nose is running again,

But my cancer drug is now the cause.

Where I once had career responsibilities,

I’m no longer running the show.

Am I just plain tired of running?

Here’s the rub; I’ve decided that

When death finally comes for me

I plan to be running late!

PS: I am not running out of ideas!

Dr Shader is professor emeritus of molecular physiology and pharmacology, and professor emeritus of psychiatry at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts.

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