- Professional runner Gabriele Grunewald has died at 32.
- Gabe, who ran professionally for Brooks Running, was diagnosed with both adenoid cystic carcinoma and thyroid cancer.
- Gabe is survived by her husband Justin Grunewald, her family, and Brave Like Gabe, the non-profit foundation she founded.
After multiple bouts of cancer, professional runner Gabriele Anderson Grunewald-better known as Gabe-has died at 32.
Gabes brother Caleb Anderson announced the news on Instagram Sunday night in an emotional post that quoted The Band Perrys song "If I Die Young."
"You know I love you with all my heart and will miss you like crazy forever," he also wrote, alongside photos of Gabe with friends and family. "I am so grateful for the time and memories I have had with you and cant wait to see you again in heaven. Rest peacefully big sister." In another post, he shared several photos of his sister and simply wrote in the caption, Thanks for the memories Gabe!
View this post on Instagram If I die young bury me in satin Lay me down on a bed of roses Sink me in the river at dawn Send me away with the words of a love song Uh oh uh oh Lord make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother She'll know I'm safe with you when She stands under my colours, oh and Life ain't always what you think it oughta be, no Ain't even grey, but she buries her baby Well, I've had just enough time If I die young bury me in satin. Lay me down on a bed of roses Sink me in the river at dawn Send me away with the words of a love song And I'll be wearing white when I come into your kingdom I'm as green as the ring on my little cold finger I've never known the lovin' of a man But it sure felt nice when he was holding my hand There's a boy here in town says he'll love me forever Who would have thought forever could be severed by The sharp knife of a short life, Well I've had just enough time So put on your best boys and I'll wear my pearls What I never did is done A penny for my thoughts, oh no I'll sell them for a dollar They're worth so much more after I'm a goner And maybe then you'll hear the words I been singin' Funny when you're dead how people start listenin' If I die young bury me in satin Lay me down on a bed of roses Sink me in the river at dawn Send me away with the words of a love song Uh oh (uh oh) The ballad of a dove Go with peace and love Gather up your tears, keep 'em in your pocket Save 'em for a time when your really gonna need 'em oh The sharp knife of a short life, Well I've had just enough time So put on your best boys, and I'll wear my pearls You know I love you with all my heart and will miss you like crazy forever. I am so grateful for the time and memories I have had with you and cant wait to see you again in heaven. Rest peacefully big sister A post shared by Dr. Caleb Anderson, DPT, CSCS (@dr.anderson) on Jun 9, 2019 at 4:51pm PDT
Gabe was initially diagnosed with a rare salivary gland cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2009, according to Brave Like Gabe , a rare-cancer nonprofit she founded. She was then diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2010 before having recurrences of adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2016 and 2017.
Gabe, who ran professionally for Brooks since 2010, continued to race in between treatments. Throughout each new diagnosis and treatment, I have made the choice to run and train when my body allows, she said on her website. It hasnt always been easy, but it has always been the right decision for me.
Gabe wrote that from the first time she was told she had cancer, she knew that running would be a part of her recovery. It has truly been my refuge; when everything else seems to be going wrong and the outcomes are far beyond my control, I can find perspective and hope on the run, she said. I believe that continuing to pursue my goals on the track has helped me to carry on with purpose in my life in the face of an uncertain future.
Gabe also said that it had become more and more of a challenge to train to be one of the best runners in the world, but that she was hopeful to try to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team in 2020.
View this post on Instagram Definitions of the word scar say its synonymous with blemish and flaw. We call BS. At @womenshealthmag we think the bodys ability to rebuild itself, and the marks left behind, are both badass and beautiful. No matter where they fall, or where they came from, scars are a testament to power and survival - something to wear with pride. Well let these warriors show you. Every scar tells a story. Here, five women share theirs. - @kriscann for The Strength In Our Scars piece feat. @allymisslove @paige_previvor @robynlawley @alyssa.exposito . I have a love/hate relationship with my scars from my battles with cancer over the years. I love that theyve often given me back my health or improved my prognosis, but I hate that they have to be there in the first place. After my first neck cancer surgery in 2009, I cringed at my reflection in the mirror. Ugh, I thought. "I am never going to look the same again. The surgery damaged my facial nerve and left me with a permanently quirky smile. The radiation that followed left a small, permanent bald spot on the back of my head. 1.5 years later I got my second surgical scar from a thyroid cancer diagnosis. I was not ready to be a two-time cancer survivor at age 24, but I figured it out the best I could and got back to living life and chasing my running dreams on the track. Although I felt unlucky, I was happy to be alive. I wish my scar story ended right there, but it doesnt. The 13-inch scar on my abdomen is from a life-extending surgery I desperately needed in 2016. Six weeks after competing in the US Olympic Trials, doctors removed half my liver and a large metastatic tumor, resulting in this scar. Im not sure Id be alive today without it. It was hard for me to not be able to run for months afterwards but Ive been blessed to get in some racing and quite a few miles since then. Im not exactly cancer-free, but Im still here: fighting - and running. My scars represent survival. My scars teach me to embrace my body and honor its strength. My scars are a physical manifestation of what often feels like an invisible disease. My scars tell my life's story, and Im pretty glad its not over yet. A post shared by gabriele anderson grunewald (@gigrunewald) on Jan 9, 2019 at 4:58pm PST
Gabe, who was left with mutliple scars from her cancer treatments, previously told Women's Health that she was empowered by those marks. "Ive questioned why these issues happened to me, and its frustrating that theyve affected my running career, but when I see my scars, Im amazed at how adaptable and incredible the human body is, she said. When I line up at the start line, my scars differentiate me from my competitors in a good way. Ive had to deal with confronting my own mortality-I feel I can rise to the challenge; I can do it."
In the past few weeks, Gabe's condition deteriorated rapidly. In an Instagram post shared in early May, Gabe said she was hospitalized with an infection, needed to have "a procedure done," and wouldn't be able to attend a Brave Like Gabe 5K being held in her honor.
View this post on Instagram Gonna need you guys to send me some extra #Brave vibes tonight as I am so, so very bummed that I wont 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 in the AM. Literally the worst timing ever but Im working with an all-star crew of friends, family, sponsors, and the ACCRF to make sure its a great race in St. Paul. . Its 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 didnt have to show it in this way because theres so many people Id love to meet and catch up with tomorrow (including my grandma who I dont see very often ). . But Im 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 youve helped support and accomplish through the research grant! So overwhelmed by the love and I cant wait to hear the recap. #bravelikegabe5k #bebrave #rarecancerresearch A post shared by gabriele anderson grunewald (@gigrunewald) on May 4, 2019 at 7:38pm PDT
Then, early Sunday, Gabes husband Justin Grunewald shared in an Instagram that Gabe had been moved to comfort care. 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, he wrote, before sharing a beautiful letter he said he wrote to her a few years ago.
At the end of the day people won't remember the PRs run or the teams qualified for," he wrote, "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."
View this post on Instagram *** update read whole post *** It breaks my heart to say but overnight Gabrieles 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 A post shared by Justin Grunewald (@justingrunewald1) on Jun 9, 2019 at 12:48pm PDT
Justin hasnt yet publicly commented on Gabes passing, but our thoughts are with him, Caleb, and all of Gabe's family and friends.