UNC diver Emily Grund is now a cancer survivor

by Jared Cruz-Aedo

Emily Grund is a cancer survivor.


Grund posted the news on social media on May 21 with a new tattoo. Grund had her last chemo treatment the day before and became a cancer survivor.


On September 9, 2021, Grund received the news that she was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia, a rare form of cancer. Grund was able to leave the hospital on October 13 since she was in remission and continued with outpatient treatment. While going through treatment, Grund continued to practice diving with dry land routines and lineups and, in mid-February, was declared 100% cancer-free but still had to continue with treatment.


“I’m going to take it slow, one step at a time, and see how it goes. Weight training as much as I can, work on drylands, and try to perfect the nitty-gritty little things before I focus on the big whole picture, which I feel will come into play in the fall for the start of my collegiate season,” Grund said.


During the time Grund was going through treatment the entire diving community gathered in support with the social media campaign #WeDiveForEmily. The hashtag was used by athletes, coaches and diving clubs to show support.


Grund hopes by the end of summer, she will be back to normal and excited for one more year with the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the upcoming NCAA season. Her most recent competition was the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. She placed fourth in the women’s 3-meter synchronized event with Hailey Hernandez.


“Like all our members, Emily is special and courageous, and when something happens to one of our own, the support from the community is undeniable. I know we all were praying and willing her to beat this awful disease, and she has. She faced it head-on, just like she has in her diving career. I am proud of all cancer survivors, and I think I can speak for the entire USA Diving community by saying that they are also proud. Congratulations,” USA Diving High Performance Director Dan Laak said.


“Growing up, Emily was always a teammate I looked up to. I've had the opportunity to dive alongside and compete synchro with her including the past U.S. Olympic Team Trials. When the news struck the diving community that she had cancer, my heart felt for her and her family knowing the sport she has quite literally dedicated her whole life to had to be put on hold to begin her battle with cancer. Her fearlessness and strong mentality that I saw from her growing up was something she carried with her throughout her battle. Now being a cancer survivor, I know she will come back stronger and more driven than ever and I can't wait to see where the rest of her diving journey takes her,” diver Hailey Hernandez said.


“When I first started going to diving meets, Emily was one of the first people I met and one of my first diving friends, so when I saw the news it was heartbreaking. Growing up, she was always a tough competitor, so the strength and resilience she showed this past year wasn’t surprising. I am so proud of Emily and the way she has battled and beat cancer. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her and her comeback,” diver Brooke Schultz said.


“Emily has always been so confident and headstrong that this was just another obstacle for her to overcome. I am so thrilled that she is a survivor, she’s an incredibly talented athlete and a person that is so loved inside and outside of the pool,” diver Nathaniel Hernandez said.


Congratulations Emily. The USA Diving community is so proud of you.