Gabriele Grunewald, the former Gophers track star and 2014 U.S. Indoor 3,000-meter champion from Perham, Minn., revealed last week that she will begin a third bout with cancer.
Grunewald posted on Instagram an image of her liver drawn by her surgical oncologist, which she enhanced through Snapchat, showing where the cancer had returned.
Grunewald was first diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2009 and again in 2011.
“Getting rid of it and becoming a 3x cancer survivor is the new reality I am now embracing,” she wrote on the post. “Outside of the biopsy revealing that the growth is indeed cancer, I have been extremely blessed in other ways. Feeling loved and supported by friends and family is #1.”
Less than two months ago, Grunewald was competing at the U.S. Olympic Trials and placed 12th in the 1500-meter final. Now she plans to beat the disease again and continue her quest for a world championship in 2017.
She tells her story about the last two months in detail in several Instagram posts that are worth a read:
OVERDUE OLYMPIC TRIALS REFLECTION ------ I jetted off to Europe right after the Trials to race in Monaco before I fully had a chance to process what happened and think about what's next. I just want to take this opportunity to extend a big, heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who supported me on my Olympic quest this year. It has meant so much to pursue this dream with the encouragement and love from so many wonderful people from all phases of my life. Though I was deeply disappointed by the end result, I am proud of how I fought to get into shape after a winter of injury and some big bumps in the road -- and how I managed to advance all the way to the 1500m Final after bombing out of the 5k Prelim. I can say with 100% certainty that I never once threw in the towel even though I found myself very far from "the plan" late into my build-up. After the Trials, my immediate thought was "Time to quit. This just isn't meant for me." But that's not really what I want. This isn't how I want to go out. I know there's a lot more left in the tank. There's more miles left in these legs and more speed to be tapped into. So you can take this as my "non-retirement" announcement because I'm not done yet! Truthfully I'm not sure what the next few years of my career will look like but I am excited to continue the journey and apply the wisdom that comes from failure. Because, like Thomas Edison, I do indeed believe that "many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close to success they were when they gave up." So, nope, not giving up. Not yet! London 2017, I'm coming for ya!
Instead of posting a picture of me fake smiling, ugly crying, or an inspirational quote that right now feels hollow, I thought I’d just share the real deal. The above picture was drawn yesterday by my surgical oncologist (enhanced by me & snapchat) and explains the situation with my liver, which is experiencing infiltration by a large tumor (13x15cm) — a metastatic recurrence of adenoid cystic carcinoma that I was first diagnosed with and recovered from in 2009. When you’re a cancer survivor, denial is not a river in Africa. It is a place you must live in order to keep going with your life: positively, optimistically believing that it will never come back and that you’ll live a healthy, long, uninterrupted life. But it did come back, and it sucks. Getting rid of it and becoming a 3x cancer survivor is the new reality I am now embracing. Outside of the biopsy revealing that the growth is indeed cancer, I have been extremely blessed in other ways. Feeling loved and supported by friends and family is #1. But the other lucky breaks involve the nature of this tumor itself and the 100% health that I’m expected to return to after surgery. I’m lucky there is just one solitary mass that’s resectable. I’m lucky we discovered this cancer before it fully overtook my liver or interfered with the function of other organs. I’m lucky I have health insurance and live in a place where excellent healthcare is available. I’m lucky the liver is a resilient and regenerative body part, and even though they will remove up to 60% of it during surgery, the left side will take over the space previously occupied by the affected right lobe and grow a normal sized, functioning liver within ~3 weeks. I’m lucky I’m expected to fully recover and get on with life within 1-2 months. So yes, I have cancer. But yes, I am also very lucky. My surgical oncologist is a busy guy so I’m going to get this unwelcome guest removed ASAP, but that might not be for a couple weeks — I will keep you guys posted when I know more. Thank you in advance for the love and encouragement. There’s nothing more I’d like than to get on with the surgery, recover, and hit the track harder than ever in 2017. Love, Gabe.
When you find out your goodbye-huge-and-annoying-liver-cancer surgery has been moved up a week and you are hopeful you'll be able to attend your little bro's wedding! �� There's never a good time to have cancer but I was really sad and worried I wasn't going to be at my brother Caleb's upcoming wedding due to surgery scheduling. So thanks to everyone who extended a prayer or positive thought in my direction this past week. They worked! D-Day is this Friday (August 26) and from there my focus will be on recovering well enough to make it to the wedding on September 3, growing a new happy liver, and then eventually pushing 'start' on the comeback to getting back to doing what I love again: living life to the fullest and running fast! 5-8 days in the hospital will be a boring, narcotic-filled staycation but I am going to have some fabulous visitors. ������ #lifeinterrupted #byecancer #gabes3rdcomeback #prettycity #prayersup ����