#Bravelikegabe - Gabe Grunewald an "inspiration to us all" right to end of cancer battle

Tributes pour in for U.S. runner Gabriele Grunewald who died after a ten year battle with cancer.

Gabriele Grunewald, who inspired a viral outpouring of online love and gratitude for her relentlessly positive spirit during her 10-year journey running despite battling cancer, passed away June 11 at her home in Minneapolis. Diagnosed with a rare cancer in her salivary gland in 2009, Grunewald was 32.

Justin Grunewald, her husband, made an emotional Instagram post Tuesday evening letting the world know.

"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," he wrote.

The post goes on to detail HGTV star Chip Gaines' #chipinchallenge that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in just hours in Grunewald's honor for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to support cancer research and treatment. Earlier in the day, Gaines posted on Instagram that he would match donations made Tuesday to St. Jude's, as well as donate the same amount to Grunewald's Brave Like Gabe Foundation.

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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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One last message

In a heartfelt post to the world on Monday, Justin Grunewald asked for "one last message" on social media with the hashtag #Bravelikegabe after the U.S. middle-distance runner was moved to home care to prepare for her final moments.

Olympians and world champions responded, as did thousands of other people.

"Thank you for showing me what bravery looks like." - Kara Goucher

"The bravery, heart and smile of Gabriele Grunewald will always shine brightly and inspire so many," posted 2005 marathon world champion Paula Radcliffe.

"Wishing you peace and the wings you so deserve," were Athens 2004 marathon bronze medallist Deena Kastor's words.

“Thank you for showing me what bravery looks like,” tweeted American marathoner Kara Goucher.

"Never underestimate your own inner strength"

In November 2017, Gabe spoke to the Olympic Channel about her story and had these powerful words for women everywhere.

"My story and my life message is just to never underestimate your own inner strength and the power that you have over your own circumstances."

"I mean, we're all going to go through different things in our life, whether it's cancer or something else, but we all have the power to live with a positive attitude and do our best and I would just say to, you know, find your own inner strength."

"We all have it. And most women are a lot stronger than they think they are."

Inspirational message from brave runner Gabriele Grunewald

Inspirational message from brave runner Gabriele Grunewald

U.S. Champion

Gabriele Grunewald, known to everyone as Gabe, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2009.

It's called adenoid cystic carcinoma and usually originates in the salivary glands.

Defiant in the face of the diagnosis Gabe went through surgery and radiation treatment but continued to run for the University of Minnesota, finishing second in the 1,500m at the 2010 NCAA championships.

In 2012 Grunewald finished fourth in the 1,500m at the 2012 Olympic trials and in 2014 she became US indoor 3,000m champion.

Her 4:01:48 personal best over 1,500m in 2013 still stands as the 12th fastest set by an American woman in history.

Despite treatments for cancer in her thyroid and liver in 2017, the U.S. track star still kept running and kept recording impressive times.

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“Definitions of the word ‘scar’ say it’s synonymous with ‘blemish’ and ‘flaw.’ We call BS. At @womenshealthmag we think the body’s 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. We’ll 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 they’ve 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 doesn’t. 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. 👆 I’m not sure I’d be alive today without it. It was hard for me to not be able to run for months afterwards but I’ve been blessed to get in some racing and quite a few miles since then. I’m not exactly cancer-free, but I’m 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 I’m pretty glad it’s not over yet. ❤️

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"Running taught me to live in the moment"

Gabe ran.

Despite a decade-long cancer ordeal she ran, defying doctors, challenging diagnoses.

The girl born in Perham, Minnesota, even harboured hopes of making the USA Tokyo 2020 team.

"Running has always been a great outlet for me. Running has taught me to live in the moment and enjoy being in the present moment," she said in an interview with the Olympic Channel back in November 2017.

Gabe aims to beat cancer again and go for Tokyo 2020

Gabe aims to beat cancer again and go for Tokyo 2020

One last message

While that dream of making Tokyo 2020 wasn't to be, this runner touched lives far beyond the people she met in person.

Many answered her husband's call to send one last message.

On June 10th Gabe's husband Justin, who's a doctor, posted this message about his wife's worsening condition:

"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."

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*** 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

A post shared by Justin Grunewald (@justingrunewald1) on

The response was overwhelming with running stars, running fans, and Gabe supporters lighting up the net with messages on how she had inspired them.

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On Friday I was in the ER (again), today I somewhat unexpectedly got my stents replaced (they weren’t working anymore). But this quote reminds me to keep pushing on. Tomorrow I’m heading to California to take a much-needed getaway with the husband and see our fave band @thenational. Then we are heading to #silodistrictmarathon in Waco to support the awesome races hosted by our friends at @magnolia with our friends & family, and YES I’m still planning and getting excited to raise funds for rare cancer research with the @bravelikegabe 5k after that! Cancer can slow me down but I’m not letting it stop me. And now a shameless plug: ENTER THE BRAVE LIKE GABE 5k PLEEEEEASE! 🥳 And a hug and thanks to everyone who already has. 😊 Hope to see y’all in either Waco, St. Paul, or virtually! . Thanks @jacquelinealnes for these fun drawings! More in my story. 🤗

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