Gabriele Grunewald, the Minnesota distance runner who gained a legion of fans during her long bout with cancer, is in grave condition and was moved to comfort care Sunday afternoon.
Grunewald’s husband, Justin Grunewald, wrote on Instagram that she was readmitted to the intensive care unit of a Minneapolis hospital on Tuesday because of septic shock. His update Sunday said “it breaks my heart to say” that Gabe’s liver function worsened overnight.
“Wanting to do her no harm, we have made the difficult decision to move her to comfort cares this afternoon,” wrote Justin, who is a doctor.
Gabe Grunewald had been in intensive care last weekend and was thought to be near death, but when Justin told her she was dying, she said “not today” and rallied enough to briefly leave the ICU. Back in intensive care, Gabe was given a new drug Tuesday in the hope it could prolong her life.
On Sunday, Justin Grunewald urged Gabe’s friends, fans and admirers to “send her one last message on her wall or on her phone before she heads up to heaven.” Gabe’s Instagram account is @gigrunewald, and her Twitter account is @gg_runs
Gabe Grunewald, 32, was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2009 while running for the Gophers’ track and cross-country teams. Following surgery and radiation therapy, the Perham, Minn., native went on to finish second in the 1,500 meters at the 2010 NCAA championships, then ran professionally through 2017 despite more surgeries and treatments for cancer in her thyroid and liver. Grunewald just missed the 2012 Olympic team, finishing fourth in the 1,500 at the trials, and was the 2014 U.S. indoor champion in the 3,000.
She still holds the Gophers record in the 1,500, with a time of 4 minutes, 13.45 seconds set in 2010.
Grunewald had been public with her fight against cancer, inspiring many with her hopefulness and courage. Many people commenting on Justin’s Instagram post Sunday afternoon were using the hashtag #bravelikegabe, the name of an organization she founded to raise money and awareness for research on rare cancers.
Justin’s post received more than 500 messages in an hour, with many people detailing the impact she had on their lives.
HGTV star Chip Gaines, whom Gabe trained for his first marathon, wrote, “All I ever want is to be #bravelikegabe.”
Olympic distance runner Kara Goucher, a Duluth native, wrote, “Thank you for showing me what bravery looks like, and for being such a constant source of inspiration.”