The Washington Post

Messages pour in for gravely ill runner


Emotional messages of support and love poured in from fellow runners as decorated American middle-distance runner Gabriele Grunewald was moved to comfort care Sunday, then to her home Monday. The messages came at the behest of her husband, Justin, who asked supporters who had followed her long fight with cancer to post “one last message” using the #bravelikeg­abe hashtag.

“Thank you for showing me what bravery looks like,” American marathoner Kara Goucher tweeted. Paula Radcliffe, the world marathon record holder, thanked Grunewald for the lives she enriched with her “bravery, heart and smile.” Deena Kastor, the 2006 London Marathon winner, tweeted, “wishing you peace and wings you so deserve.”

Known as Gabe, Grunewald, 32, was diagnosed in 2009 with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare form of cancer that usually originates in the salivary glands. She underwent surgery and radiation treatment and continued to run for the University of Minnesota, finishing second in the 1,500 meters at the 2010 NCAA championsh­ips. She kept up the pace through 2017 even as she underwent treatment for cancer in her thyroid and liver. She finished fourth in the 1,500 at the 2012 Olympic trials and was the U.S. indoor champion in the 3,000 in 2014.

Last week, the Minnesota native was hospitaliz­ed in intensive care because of septic shock. Her husband sought to prepare her for dying, only to have her rally and leave the ICU. Although she was given a new drug in an attempt to extend her life, her husband, an internal medicine physician, wrote on Instagram on Sunday that her condition had deteriorat­ed.

“It breaks my heart to say but overnight Gabriele’s status worsened,” Justin Grunewald wrote. “Wanting to do her no harm we have made the difficult decision to move her to [comfort care] 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.”

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