Can Gabriele Grunewald please catch a break?

Photo: Ben Blair, via Gabby Grunewald Facebook page

If there’s someone who should catch a break in this state, it’s Gabriele Grunewald, a professional runner who once ran the fifth-fastest time in the 1,500 meters in University of Minnesota history just a day after she was diagnosed with cancer.

Having beaten cancer, she came back a year later to own the school record, losing the Big Ten 1500 meter title by one-hundredth of a second.

Then she was diagnosed with cancer again. It was 2011.

She missed out on the 2012 Olympics in London, but became a national champion in the 3,000 meters in 2014.

In July, she just missed making the Olympics team.

“Maybe it’s time to have a baby. I just turned 30,” the Perham, Minn., native told the Fargo Forum.

“As a cancer survivor, I don’t want to put life off.”

Which brings us to today, when she announced on Instagram that her cancer has returned.

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Instead of posting a picture of me fake smiling, ugly crying, or an inspirational quote that right now feels hollow, I thought I’d just share the real deal. The above picture was drawn yesterday by my surgical oncologist (enhanced by me & snapchat) and explains the situation with my liver, which is experiencing infiltration by a large tumor (13x15cm) — a metastatic recurrence of adenoid cystic carcinoma that I was first diagnosed with and recovered from in 2009. When you’re a cancer survivor, denial is not a river in Africa. It is a place you must live in order to keep going with your life: positively, optimistically believing that it will never come back and that you’ll live a healthy, long, uninterrupted life. But it did come back, and it sucks. Getting rid of it and becoming a 3x cancer survivor is the new reality I am now embracing. Outside of the biopsy revealing that the growth is indeed cancer, I have been extremely blessed in other ways. Feeling loved and supported by friends and family is #1. But the other lucky breaks involve the nature of this tumor itself and the 100% health that I’m expected to return to after surgery. I’m lucky there is just one solitary mass that’s resectable. I’m lucky we discovered this cancer before it fully overtook my liver or interfered with the function of other organs. I’m lucky I have health insurance and live in a place where excellent healthcare is available. I’m lucky the liver is a resilient and regenerative body part, and even though they will remove up to 60% of it during surgery, the left side will take over the space previously occupied by the affected right lobe and grow a normal sized, functioning liver within ~3 weeks. I’m lucky I’m expected to fully recover and get on with life within 1-2 months. So yes, I have cancer. But yes, I am also very lucky. My surgical oncologist is a busy guy so I’m going to get this unwelcome guest removed ASAP, but that might not be for a couple weeks — I will keep you guys posted when I know more. Thank you in advance for the love and encouragement. There’s nothing more I’d like than to get on with the surgery, recover, and hit the track harder than ever in 2017. Love, Gabe.

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