Notable Deaths ›

Gabriele Grunewald (1986–2019), elite runner inspired as she battled cancer

Photo via Facebook

Continued to race and train through cancer treatments

Gabriele Grunewald was an elite runner who became well-known for documenting her cancer journey on social media. Diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2009 and thyroid cancer in 2010 – both while she was in college at the University of Minnesota – she continued her athletic career as she underwent chemotherapy and surgeries. A middle distance runner, Grunewald excelled in 1500 meter and 3000 meter races. In 2014, she was the national champion in the 3000 meter race at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships. She came close to qualifying for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics – placing one spot away from qualifying in 2012 – and was training for the 2020 Olympics.  

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Died: June 11, 2019 (Who else died on June 11?)  

Details of death: Died in Minneapolis of complications of cancer at the age of 32.


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Finding inspiration in her scars: Grunewald's most prominent proof of her cancer battle was the 13-inch scar that snaked down her abdomen. Another was her smile, changed by an operation that damaged a facial nerve. Grunewald talked about them on social media: "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."  

Notable quote: “Being brave, for me, means not giving up on the things that make me feel alive.”  

What people said about her: “At the end of the day people won’t remember the PRs run or the team qualified for but they will remember that hard period in their life where they were losing hope but they found inspiration in a young lady who refuses to give up.” —Justin Grunewald, husband  

Full obituary: The New York Times  

Related lives: 

- Tyler Trent (1998–2019), Purdue superfan battled cancer  

- Claire Wineland (1997–2018), inspiring speaker lived with cystic fibrosis  

- Katie and Dalton Prager (1990–2016), the real-life “Fault in Our Stars” couple