The husband of decorated American long-distance runner Gabriele Grunewald posted to Instagram calling on supporters to send “one last message” to his wife as her long battle with cancer comes to a close at their home in Minneapolis.
Last week, Grunewald, 32, was hospitalized with a septic infection that caused her liver to fail. She was moved to comfort care on Sunday and then to her home on Monday where she is expected to live out her last days, he said.
Her husband posted to social media on Monday showing a picture of his wife on a couch in their condo surrounded by loved ones.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One as though nothing is a miracle, the other as though everything is a miracle.” @gigrunewald chose the latter,” Justin Grunewald wrote on Instagram.
“We got her home to our comfy couch and she is resting peacefully and breathing easy surrounded by her best friends and family,” he said.
Grunewald was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare cancer of the salivary glands, in 2009. Despite her illness, she continued to run for the University of Minnesota to win national championships and placed on the Olympic trials in 2012.
Despite undergoing surgery and radiation treatment, Grunewald finished second in the 2010 NCAA championship for the 1,500 meter race for the University of Minnesota. She continued to run despite the cancer spreading to her thyroid and liver in 2017. She placed fourth in the 1,500 at the 2012 Olympic trials and was the U.S. indoor champion in the 3,000 in 2014, according to the Washington Post.
Justin Grunewald, a fellow runner and an internal medicine physician, told supporters that his wife was “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.”
Fellow runners and athletes took to social media to share messages of love and support using the hashtag #bravelikegabe. American marathoner Kara Goucher tweeted “Thank you for showing me what bravery looks like.” Paula Radcliffe, the world marathon record holder, thanked Grunewald for her “bravery, heart and smile.”
“Wishing you peace and wings you so deserve.” Deena Kastor, the 2006 London Marathon winner, tweeted. She then told Grunewald’s husband, Justin, that “thousands of people are grateful for your own courage and are sending you love. Feel it overflowing in your big, big heart.”