Gabriele Grunewald survived cancer for 10 years. She taught the world to face your disease with the brightest smile and never stop following your goals.
Some are mothers, others are teachers, there are many leading a team of men in the world of business, and then there are the many in the world of sports and athletics, matching their male competitors every step of the way. You will find strong women thriving in practically every field imaginable. And 32-year-old Gabriele Grunewald was one such athlete who achieved her success while battling cancer, a disease that can leave you weak and frail, physically and mentally exhausted. After ten years of one heartbreaking diagnosis after another, chemotherapy and winning championships, Gabriele succumbed to the deadly disease on June 12, 2019.
Growing with every step they take, teaching a lesson or two through their actions, and leaving a mark that will never be erased. Most people lose hope when they go through difficult phases in life. Regardless of how bearable our pain may be, as humans, we tend to give up on ourselves. However, there are some individuals who exhibit extraordinary courage and bravery through what others consider impossible.
According to The New York Times, Justin Grunewald, Gabriele's husband announced the death of the runner through an Instagram post. He wrote, "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."
Gabriele Grunewald is a face that could never be forgotten from professional racing. The gifted athlete first discovered the news of her illness in 2009. Gabriele who was preparing for a race learned that she was affected by adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare cancer of the salivary gland. However, the news of her illness did not stop the determined sportswoman. She ran the race knowing that she was now a victim of a deadly disease. Not only did she just run but also recorded her fasted timing in a 1500 meter time.
In 2010, her thyroid gland was removed when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. But, she kept calm and ran faster than ever. “It’s like I lost all excuses for not pushing myself to reach my fullest potential,” she had said in an interview with New York Times.
Gabriele talked less about her illness and focused on her progress on track. After graduating from college, she dedicated her entire time to professional racing, competing as a middle -distance runner. The athlete was made to undergo several sessions of chemotherapy and surgeries, the first of which damaged her facial nerve that changed her smile forever. However, nothing stopped her from smiling at the starting lines.
Though her body was weak and in pain, the young woman did not give up on her dream. She kept her feet strong on the track field even when she knew her days were numbered. She took part in a series of races without worrying about her illness. In 2014, the determined athlete won the United States’ indoor national championship in the 3,000 meters.
Gabriele decided to go public with her cancer battle when she learned that in spite of all the treatments she underwent, her cancer had returned. In 2017, doctors found new tumors in her body and the runner began interspersing chemotherapy sessions with training sessions. Throughout the last three years, Gabriele chronicled her cancer struggles. She started a foundation called the Brave Like Gabe and became an inspirational figure for cancer patients and survivors.
She who kept running with the harsh chemo and surgeries flaunted her scars on the race track. “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,” wrote Gabriele on a Facebook post this year.
Though the medication drained her, she still hoped to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. “Being brave, for me, means not giving up on the things that make me feel alive,” wrote Gabriele on the cancer research foundation website.
The brave athlete who fought cancer is a motivation that every person can look up to.