Gabe Grunewald on Running, Cancer Treatment & Looking Ahead
“Throughout all of it, I believe something will work for me eventually. In the meantime, I gotta live my life.”
By Erin Strout, Runner’s World
During the past year, Gabriele Grunewald, 31, has tried to maintain her presence as a professional middle-distance runner while pursuing all available avenues to treat her fourth bout of cancer. It’s been a year of extensive travel, a lot of airports and many hours in doctors’ offices.
All the while, Grunewald has openly shared her story about her life with adenoid cystic carcinoma, first diagnosed in 2009, when she was an NCAA standout at the University of Minnesota. Her latest recurrence came in March, seven months after she had a large tumor removed from her liver. More small tumors returned to her liver, which did not respond to chemotherapy and have not stabilized this fall during an immunotherapy clinical trial.
Splitting time between her hometown of Minneapolis and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Grunewald and her husband, Justin Grunewald, have also taken time to visit Europe and, of course, run. Now the 2014 USA 3000m indoor national champion is eyeing an opportunity between treatments to focus more attention on her training—and hopefully qualify for the USA Indoor Track Championships in February 2018.
Runner’s World: Can you update us on the latest in your treatment? Last time we talked you had recently discovered that the chemo wasn’t effective, so you had started immunotherapy.
Gabriele Grunewald: Most recently I was on an immunotherapy clinical trial from middle of July until my last infusion on November 1. In October they decided they wanted to add some radiation treatment to help boost that immune response. That’s what I was prepping for in November. I had a treatment last Wednesday—it’s called stratosphere or Y90—it’s a liver-directed radiation treatment. They send these little, targeted glass beads of radiation through your femoral artery directly into the tumors in my liver. What my oncologist is hoping for is a synergistic effect between the immunotherapy and the radiation, to sort of boost the response we’re getting from my immunotherapy. It’s a one-and-done treatment, not like regular radiation where you might have five days a week. The radiation I got will release through the next few weeks, so I won’t have to go back and get another one, which is great.
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