June 3, 2019
Gabe Grunewald has always been a fighter. She fought in 2009 when she was first diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC), a rare form of cancer found primarily in the salivary glands, while at the University of Minnesota, coming back to finish second in the NCAA 1500-meter final a year later. She fought again when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer later in 2010, embarking on a professional career that carried her to a fourth-place finish at the 2012 Olympic Trials and a U.S. indoor title at 3,000 meters in 2014. Most publicly, she fought in 2017, when her ACC recurred and she raced through chemotherapy treatment to qualify for and compete at the USATF Outdoor Championships.
Grunewald is still battling cancer, and she showed that fighting spirit one more time over the weekend, channeling her inner Arya Stark in the process. On Saturday, Grunwald’s labs came back with such poor numbers that her husband Justin, who is also a doctor, made the difficult decision that it was time to say goodbye to his wife and tell her that she was dying.
What happened next was remarkable. Justin can tell the story far better than we can — read the full post below for details.
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***Read whole post*** Yesterday was the worst day of my life. I woke up next to my wife to a group of alarmed nurses rushing us to the ICU. Her morning labs had come back and “they did not look good.” @gigrunewald seemed a little confused but otherwise fine. Upon arriving to the ICU I reviewed her labs with her team of internist and critical care doctor and immediately ran out of the hospital crying. For medical professionals her lactate was 23 and pH was 6.9, values incompatible with life. They started fluid resuscitation, placed a PICC line gave two units of blood and her numbers had worsened with a lactate of 26. She was relatively unaware and at peace. I made the hardest decision of my life with her family and brother to move her to comfort care. I actually got the opportunity to say goodbye to her alone and inform her she was dying, at that time she did not seem to be comprehending much. Shortly after I told her she was dying she took a deep breath and yelled “NOT TODAY.” We went to bed shortly after I felt for her radial pulse all night on her arm with her mother and @abigailande sleeping on her other side. At around 8am when the critical care doctor came in the room Gabe woke me up because she wanted to order breakfast. After stopping cares most of her labs had normalized on their own and she is now eating a @shakeshack burger out of the ICU. Talking to all my doctor colleagues they have never seen another patient survive similar circumstances. It can only be explained as divine intervention or miracle. Today was the best day of my life. Thank you sooo much for the prayers. Also again thanks to the best friend group in the world for literally getting here from multiple states within 12 hours and to my bro @mattg_nearthesea for making the fastest trip ever from Cayman to MN! #bravelikegabe #runningonhope #nottoday
Like thousands of other runners, we at LetsRun.com continue to be amazed by Gabe’s toughness, courage, and fighting spirit. She is, quite simply, one of the most inspiring individuals we have ever encountered. Gabe, Justin, and their families remain in our thoughts and the thoughts of LetsRun nation. We are all rooting for you!
You can send your messages of to support to Gabe in the messageboard thread below: