Gabriele Grunewald was moved to comfort care on Sunday evening. The 32-year-old runner had battled multiple bouts of rare cancer. Grunewald was initially diagnosed with a rare cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2009. She was later diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2010 before facing another bout of adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2016 and 2017.
Grunewald is one of America’s strongest distance runners, holding U.S. championship titles and the 12th fastest time ever run by an American woman over 1,500m at 4:01.48.
But Grunewald will be remembered by so much more than her remarkable running results. She founded the not-for-profit Brave Like Gabe. She said on the website, “My goal is to raise awareness for these diseases, the research funding disparities, and other challenges that prevent these cancers from having effective treatment options. Through Brave Like Gabe fundraising efforts, we will support research and accelerate treatments for rare cancer patients.”
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Gonna need you guys to send me some extra #Brave vibes tonight as I am so, so very bummed that I won’t be able to make it to the @bravelikegabe 5k tomorrow — because I am in the hospital with an infection and need a procedure done bright & early tomorrow. Literally the worst timing ever but I’m working with an all-star crew of friends, family, and the ACCRF to make sure it’s a great race in St. Paul. . It’s not lost on me that maybe this is one of the most poignant ways to show just how critical research is. Cancer is nothing if not incredibly inconvenient and we need more options. I wish I didn’t have to show it in this way because there’s so many people I’d love to meet and catch up with tomorrow (including my grandma who I don’t see very often ❤️). . But I’m gonna be brave and fight these fevers and hopefully the procedure will help me out big time. 🙏 Prayers very much welcome. . Have a heck of a time out there and celebrate what you’ve helped support and accomplish through the research grant! So overwhelmed by the love and I can’t wait to hear the recap. ❤️ #bravelikegabe5k #bebrave #rarecancerresearch
Grunewald touched the lives of so many in the running community and beyond, as was evidenced by the flood of messages she received on social media over the last week. Some of them are listed below. See here to donate to Brave Like Gabe.
— Kara Goucher (@karagoucher) June 9, 2019
I’ve never met a kinder, more courageous person than @gg_runs. I’ve never known a more caring, supportive partner than @JustinGrunewald. Please send them strength and love right now, and keep their family and close friends in your thoughts, prayers, and intentions. #bravelikegabe
— Mario Fraioli (@mariofraioli) June 10, 2019
Dear @gg_runs, you combined a fierce competitiveness on the track with kindness off of it. You set the standard for handling adversity with grit and grace that we all will try to live up to. #BraveLikeGabe #NotToday https://t.co/sSPcgqFmbG
— Steve Magness (@stevemagness) June 9, 2019
A text exchange from 2017 between @gg_runs and I. She was always planning her runs and meet ups around chemotherapy and procedures. Not what a young person should have to do. But she lived with passion, positivity, and perseverance. Love you Gabe❤️❤️ #BraveLikeGabe pic.twitter.com/t0Bs6VzaUY
— Stephanie Bruce (@Steph_Rothstein) June 9, 2019
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*** update read whole post *** It breaks my heart to say but overnight Gabriele’s status worsened with worsening liver function causing confusion. Wanting to do her no harm we have made the difficult decision to move her to comfort cares this afternoon. I wanted to let you all know while she is still alive so you can send her one last message here or on her wall or on her phone before she heads up to heaven. I wrote this to her a couple years ago below and wanted to share what she means to me. Dear Gabriele, First, thank you. Thank you so much for showing me what it's like to be and feel alive. It's easy to pass through life day to day and punch a time card wishing away the hours. Currently although I don't always show it, I cherish every second. Whether we are out running, binging on a new Netflix series, or just lying in bed being lazy. Nothing beats the feeling I get when I see your smiling face. I know life is scary and I know we have won the lottery of uncertainty, and it's not fair, but I still choose our life of uncertainly and at times fear, over any alternative option I could think of. I have so much fun with you and have learned more from having you as my best friend and wife than I learned in the rest of my life combined. I know you have been given the heaviest of tasks in life. The task of being brave despite feeling enormous amounts of fear. The task of smiling when your throat wells up with pain and eyes want to fill with tears, but I don't think you were chosen by random chance, and again I know that's not fair but you are so amazing at being you and that's why I feel bravelikegabe is so special. Because there isn't a word in the dictionary for what you do or who you are. Brave flails in comparison to what you are to me and to so many people out there facing the simplest and silliest of struggles in day to day life. At the end of the day people won't remember the PRs run or the teams qualified for but they will remember that hard period in their life where they were losing hope but they found inspiration in a young lady who refuses to give up. I love you ❤️ #bravelikegabe #runningonhope