Gabriele Grunewald dead aged 32: Inspirational US distance runner loses brave ten-year battle with cancer

AMERICAN distance runner Gabriele Grunewald has died at the age of 32 following a 10-year battle with cancer.

The track star has been hailed as an inspiration by her husband Justin, while British athlete Jo Pavey offered her condolences.

So many trips to New York. At first I hated the big city and felt claustrophobic. Thankfully, I had a seasoned veteran at life with me @gigrunewald. Manhattan has become a second home and she always lets me drag her on the subway 30min to @otherhalfnyc for the best IPAs around. ?: @abigailande

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In an emotional message, Justin said on Instagram: "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.

"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.

"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."

Grunewald won the US national title in 2014 in the 3,000m indoor event, while she also represented America in the 2014 World Indoor Championships – finishing in ninth place.

The US Olympic Committee paid tribute to Grunewald, as they said: "Thank you for teaching us what it means to be brave and courageous. Your story and memory will inspire the Team USA family for a lifetime."

Pavey – a World, European and Commonwealth medallist – tweeted: "The running community has lost someone very special. A truly inspiring and courageous person. Thinking of Gabe's family and friends."

Grunewald was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2009 – an extremely rare form of cancer that often affects the salivary glands of the head and neck.

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#runningisforlovers ?

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#runningisforlovers ?

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Rare diseases are often lurking in the shadows of public health problems — but not today! Today we emerge from the darkness of our conditions and share our stories because this is our day to raise awareness and ask for help: #RareDiseaseDay2018. I am one of the 30 million Americans living with one of the 7,000 different types of rare disorders, with more being discovered each day. Odds are very good that you know someone personally with a rare disorder — 10% of Americans have one. Some people hear the word “rare” and immediately think — “if it’s so rare, why should we really care? We should only focus our resources on treating diseases that affect larger groups.” But in reality, if all the people in the world with a rare disease lived in one country, it would be the world’s 3rd most populous country. My rare disease is a rare cancer, and most people are unaware of the fact that about half of all cancer patients are fighting a rare cancer for which there are often very limited treatment options. Since the Orphan Drug Act was passed in 1983, only 326 new drugs were approved and brought to market for all rare disease patients combined. We need to continue making progress on understanding and treating all of these diseases — so if you’re a patient, share your story and get involved in your cause. Patient involvement is the key to effective research for rare diseases! Everyone has a role in solving the rare disease dilemmas — patients, researchers, drug companies, clinicians, and lawmakers! Let’s care about rare. Let’s use our voices and work together to improve outcomes for all those suffering from rare conditions. ? . . . #rarediseaseday #rarediseaseday2018 #icareaboutrare #shareyourrare #showyourrare #rarecancer #adenoidcysticcarcinoma #bravelikegabe

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Rare diseases are often lurking in the shadows of public health problems — but not today! Today we emerge from the darkness of our conditions and share our stories because this is our day to raise awareness and ask for help: #RareDiseaseDay2018. I am one of the 30 million Americans living with one of the 7,000 different types of rare disorders, with more being discovered each day. Odds are very good that you know someone personally with a rare disorder — 10% of Americans have one. Some people hear the word “rare” and immediately think — “if it’s so rare, why should we really care? We should only focus our resources on treating diseases that affect larger groups.” But in reality, if all the people in the world with a rare disease lived in one country, it would be the world’s 3rd most populous country. My rare disease is a rare cancer, and most people are unaware of the fact that about half of all cancer patients are fighting a rare cancer for which there are often very limited treatment options. Since the Orphan Drug Act was passed in 1983, only 326 new drugs were approved and brought to market for all rare disease patients combined. We need to continue making progress on understanding and treating all of these diseases — so if you’re a patient, share your story and get involved in your cause. Patient involvement is the key to effective research for rare diseases! Everyone has a role in solving the rare disease dilemmas — patients, researchers, drug companies, clinicians, and lawmakers! Let’s care about rare. Let’s use our voices and work together to improve outcomes for all those suffering from rare conditions. ? . . . #rarediseaseday #rarediseaseday2018 #icareaboutrare #shareyourrare #showyourrare #rarecancer #adenoidcysticcarcinoma #bravelikegabe

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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. When @chipgaines made the final push in his #chipinchallenge I could feel your happiness building and could also see that this made you ready to head up to heaven. Chip thanks for helping her to go up so peacefully with no suffering. 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 ??? #keeprunningonhope #bravelikegabe ? @pixelcrave ? @kohjiro_kinno

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Due to tumours, Grunewald had her salivary gland removed, before having her thyroid removed two years later in 2011.

She then had to have half of her liver removed in August 2016 due to a cancerous tumour.

Grunewald believed she was cancer free after the operation, but within two years scans showed she needed further treatment.

Justin took to social media on Sunday to announce his wife had been admitted to end-of-life care, with a number of sporting greats paying tribute to the popular track athlete.

Paul Radcliffe tweeted: "The bravery, heart and smile of Gabriele Grunewald will always shine brightly and inspire so many. Thinking of you and of Justin Grunewald and all those whose lives were enriched by your courage and love."

Olympic medallist Deena Kastor said: "Dear Gabriele Grunewald, Wishing you peace and the wings you so deserve. Justin Grunewald, Thousands of people are grateful for your own courage and are sending you love… feel it overflowing in your big, big heart."

Grunewald's story is truly one of inspiration.

After being diagnosed with ACC in 2009 and told there was no cure at a track meet, Grunewald – competing for the University of Minnesota – clocked a personal best in the 1500m the very next day.


She returned to the team the next season after undergoing treatment, where she earned All-American honours and runner-up at the NCAA championships.

And after having radiotherapy treatment during her second fight against cancer in 2011, she competed in the US 1500m trials for the London 2012 Games, where she finished in fourth spot – missing out on an Olympic spot by one position.

Grunewald also competed at the 2016 Olympic trials unbeknown she had a four-pound tumour in her liver, where she bravely entered both the 5,000m and 1500m events.

And after a smaller tumour appeared on her liver in 2017, she continued to keep running as she raced in the US outdoor championships.

With the help of friends, she set up the Brave Like Gabe foundation in 2018 to raise funds and awareness for rare cancer research.

Speaking to CNN last year, Grunewald said: "I think being an athlete and being a runner has definitely effected how I approached surviving cancer.

"There's some tough races that I've had to bounce back from, and tough workouts, and that's the same thing with my treatments … I still feel like there's a way for me to get through it."

If life ever gets hard, do these things in no particular order. 1. Disney World 2. Buy a cute dog 3. Go to the most beautiful place you can think of 4. Climb a mountain5. Keep runningAnd if all that fails, go back to Disney World! #bravelikegabe #keeprunning #disneyworld #banff

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Calling her shot. #thisistwinsterritory . PC: @jcurtisj_ Tix: @gormanat

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Trophy wife ? and coffee life ☕️ for me. Casual post-night shift Wednesday morning with @gigrunewald speaking at The Lombardi Foundation lunch. Thanks @northerncoffeeworks for keeping me awake for it. #bravelikegabe #nfl #lombarditrophy #superbowl52

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