An incredibly moving and incredibly sad story from the world of running has spread across the internet over the last 24 hours. It has been reported by media in America that Gabriele Anderson Grunewald, an American distance runner who has heroically battled cancer over the last decade, was moved to comfort care Sunday after her health deteriorated.
If you don't know her story, Grunewald has been an inspiration for so many over the last number of years, competing at an elite level in long distance running despite suffering from a very rare kind of cancer.
Her husband Justin penned the following instagram post describing her condition yesterday.
View this post on Instagram
*** 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
Justin also asked people to share their final messages to his wife, and the world of athletics and beyond have been hailing the Minnesota runner for the last 24 hours.
Just heard the news on @gg_runs someone who I’ve never met but seen compete many times. Her story is inspiring and she is an incredibly brave person. A measure of ones character is not about their successes but how many times they’ve gotten back up when knocked down.
— Brian Gregan (@BrianGregan89) June 10, 2019
An incredible women of strength & talent. https://t.co/M811PVe1Ii
— Natalya Coyle (@Natalyacoyle) June 10, 2019
— David Epstein (@DavidEpstein) June 9, 2019
— Jo Pavey (@jopavey) June 10, 2019
Dear @gg_runs - thank you for being the embodiment of grace, grit, and perseverance. The world is a better place because of you. Rest easy, knowing you are so loved #BraveLikeGabe https://t.co/9JNvYQqN3P
— Amelia Boone (@ameliaboone) June 9, 2019
Grunewald had attempted to qualify for the 2017 World Championships despite having half her liver (and a tumour) removed. This 25-minute documentary that Gabriele did with her shoe company Brooks captures Grunewald's cancer battle, and her fighting spirit, poignantly.
As Gabriele wrote in 2017:
Full-time professional runner, part-time cancer fighter.
Or is it full-time cancer fighter and part-time professional runner
The truth is these days, I’m not really sure.
Gabriele has become something more than that - she's become an example of everything we as humans can be.