Last week, elite runner and cancer survivor Gabe Grunewald posted the heart-breaking Instagram update that her body did not respond to chemotherapy.
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Do you want the good news first or the bad news? Don’t you hate that question? All I want is the good news, always. . Well the good news is that my summer of chemo, after two rounds, is over! Never thought I’d have to retire #chemorunners so early, but I’m done with chemo because of the “bad news,” or what I’ve come to consider in my unique cancer world, simply “news.” I didn’t respond to chemo. At all. In fact, my cancer grew a bit and I think there is a new tumor or two. Yikes. We knew chemo was far from a silver bullet for patients with ACC mets but there is always hope that your specific case will be different. I’ve found that one of the hardest parts of dealing with an ongoing cancer battle is building up all of your hope in a specific treatment or course of action and having that balloon of hope deflate pretty quickly… and then having to blow up another balloon all over again. 🎈 It’s exhausting. But it’s essential. If you have metastatic cancer you are living life on the edge, praying for a breakthrough. On the road to finding a treatment that works for you, you’re probably going to fail a treatment (or quite a few treatments!) along the way. That doesn’t mean you’re out of the race. You just have to brush yourself off and keep running. The race we’re in doesn’t have a finish line or a course map. You’re just running toward what you can see — the steps directly in front of you. The rest will reveal itself in time. 🎈🏃♀️ . The other good news is that even though I’m well off the beaten path of cancer treatments, there are still cancer centers and researchers working on new options. This is a huge blessing! For me, the next step will be enrolling in an immunotherapy trial (Hi #immunotherapyrunners!) @sloankettering and yes, hoping for the best (a miracle?) that I will respond and we can start getting this recurrence under control. There are still liver-directed therapies that could be helpful for me at some point, but I’m now fully under the care of Dr. Ho are we are still ‘in it to win it’ — not giving up on the idea that we can treat and control the disease itself, rather than just manage the tumors. . (Post continued in comments below.) . 📸: @urimiscott
Gabe is currently battling a rare form of cancer for a fourth time, and she continued to run and race competitively in between infusions. Following the 1,500-meter first rounds at the U.S. outdoor championships this summer, every competitor created a ‘prayer circle’ around Gabe to wish her well in her continued treatment. But unfortunately, the track runner is now seeking new treatments to hopefully beat this cancer for a fourth time…which of course comes with a massive financial undertaking when it’s all said and done.
The outpouring of support Gabe and husband Justin have received since her announcement has been overwhelming. Athlete Biz, a nonprofit website that supports the careers of our country’s top track and field athletes, created a fundraising page to assist the couple with medical bills, and as of July 19, nearly $33K has been raised against the $50,000 goal. The page, which has been shared around on social media dozens of times already, includes a touching message about the courageous runner:
Gabriele has been inspiring us all with her grit, determination, grace and resolve as she has continued to train, race, and share her story through her fourth bout with cancer in eight years. Most recently, she competed in her eighth USA Outdoor Track & Field Championship in the midst of chemotherapy, the crowd rising in standing ovation as she crossed the finish line and her fellow competitors surrounded her in a hug of solidarity. As Gabriele (fondly known as Gabe) announced on July 12, her cancer has not responded to chemo. She and her husband, Justin, are turning to specialists at Sloan Kettering Memorial hospital in New York City to figure out a next course of action that includes emerging therapies beyond the standard treatments she has tried thus far. Over the coming months, there will be frequent trips to NYC from their home in Minneapolis, medical expenses, and many unknowns. As friends, family, fans, admirers, and supporters of Gabe and Justin (#TeamGabe!), we do not want them taking on these expenses alone. Let’s all come together to support Team Gabe and make sure she has the means to pursue the best treatment options available. Consider making a donation and/or using the hashtag #BraveLikeGabe to show Gabe how she has inspired you to be brave in your own life. Any funds not used for treatment will go towards Gabe’s dream of starting the “Cure Cancer Run Club,” a foundation dedicated to supporting cancer causes through organized running events. We love you, Gabe! #TeamGabe #BraveLikeGabe
And of course being the class act and humble person she is, Gabe has already tweeted, “I promise if I can get through this, you will find my giving my life back.” She’s just the brightest star in running right now.
If you’d like to support Gabe’s fight against cancer, you can visit the donation page here.
This story originally appeared on WomensRunning.com.