Paralympic Silver medalist and Para World champion sailor Hugh Freund didn’t let a cancer diagnosis or amputation stop him from achieving his personal best.
At age 18, Hugh was treated for osteosarcoma at the Mass General Cancer Center. In addition to chemotherapy, he also faced the removal of an invasive tumor in his ankle. This presented a very difficult choice: amputate the leg above the ankle, or have the tumor removed and the leg reconstructed. Learning that a reconstructed leg would leave him with a weaker leg, unable to run, jump or play sports, Hugh decided on the amputation. And he hasn’t slowed down since.
Hugh became active in adaptive and Paralympic sailing, winning the 2016 Para World Championship with his team in the Netherlands. He and his team then represented the United States in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, where they won a Silver medal. In addition, Hugh has been part of a team that’s won seven Sailing World Cup medals over two Paralympic four-year cycles, along with numerous other victories. In addition to being a competitor, Hugh is a teacher and trainer for others with disabilities, helping out with the Warrior Sailing Program, which uses sailing as a rehabilitation platform for wounded, ill and injured service members. He also volunteers at Courageous Sailing in Boston, which is committed to making sailing accessible to Boston youth, the public and people with physical and intellectual challenges.
Hugh’s oncologist, Edwin Choy, MD, PhD, has been with Hugh since the beginning, and knows that whether it’s cancer treatment or a competition, the talented athlete never, ever gives up. “He is probably one of the most amazing people you meet in life,” says Dr. Choy.