Inspiring Athlete Tragically Passes Away at Only 32 After Battling Rare Cancer

June 11, 2019Jun 11, 2019

Athlete Gabriele Grunewald has sadly passed away, reported the Star Tribune. The runner had been battling cancer for a decade.

Grunewald died Tuesday evening at age 32. She was struggling with a rare cancer, but she continued to run throughout three more bouts with cancer.

Grunewald went through surgeries, radiation treatments, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Sadly, they could not cure her cancer.

Her husband, Justin Grunewald, announced the sad news on Instagram. He revealed that she had passed away at 7:52 p.m.

"At 7:52 I said 'I can’t wait until I get to see you again' to my hero, my best friend, my inspiration, my wife. @gigrunewald I always felt like the Robin to your Batman and I know I will never be able to fill this gaping hole in my heart or fill the shoes you have left behind. Your family loves you dearly as do your friends."

He continued, "To everyone else from all ends of the earth, Gabriele heard your messages and was so deeply moved. She wants you to stay brave and keep all the hope in the world. Thanks for helping keep her brave in her time of need."

Gabrielle was admitted to the intensive care unit at a Minneapolis hospital on June 4 with septic shock. She was given a new drug in the hope it would prolong her life.

"Her liver function deteriorated early Sunday morning, and she was moved to comfort care. Monday, she was brought home to the couple’s Minneapolis condo, where she died surrounded by family and close friends," reported the Tribune.

Grunewald was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2009. She refused to give up her ambitions as a runner.

“She was one tough son-of-a-gun,’’ said former Gophers cross-country coach Gary Wilson, who was at Grunewald’s bedside Monday. “Gabe was a fighter from the get-go. She gave people something we all need: hope. That’s her legacy.

Grunewald ran track and cross-country for the Gophers under her maiden name of Gabriele Anderson. She was a fifth-year senior when she first learned she had cancer.

Following surgery and radiation therapy, she finished second in the 1,500 meters at the 2010 NCAA championships. She still holds the Gophers record in the 1,500, with a time of four minutes, 13.45 seconds.

She went on to almost compete at the Olympics. Grunewald finished fourth in the 1,500 at the 2012 Olympic trials, missing the team for the London Summer Games by one spot.

Her motto became “rest doesn’t cure cancer.’’ She began the Brave Like Gabe foundation to raise money and awareness for research into rare cancers, while her social media accounts inspired 77,000 followers.

HGTV star Chip Gaines, whom Gabe Grunewald trained for his first marathon, wrote “All I ever want is to be #bravelikegabe.’’ Olympic distance runner Kara Goucher, a Duluth native, wrote “Thank you for showing me what bravery looks like, and for being such a constant source of inspiration.’’

Grunewald ran her last race in 2017. Please join us in praying for her husband and the rest of her family as they deal with her sad passing.

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