“Sam is an older brother for me, he’s really like family,” said Frech, who cleared 1.80 on Tuesday but failed to win a medal.
Jumper Sam Grewe wins gold and now heads of medical school | Sports
Frech is 16 and the youngest member of the American Paralympic track and field team.
“I watched Sam compete in Rio, and I realized that’s what I want to do with my life,” Frech added.
Grewe said Frech would call him almost daily and send videos of his jumping technique. Grewe could empathize easily, already filling a spot as coach, role model, and caregiver.
“I think there are so many lessons that can’t be learned in a textbook for doctors,” Grewe said. “Things like compassion, empathy, taking a holistic approach when you’re working with a patient.”
Grewe said a man in Tokyo encountered him recently as he was walking to the track and handed him a note. It explained that his 10-year-old son had been diagnosed with the same bone cancer that Grewe had, and also went ahead with the choice of losing his leg.
Grewe said the man had seen him jump, which offered assurance that his son would also recover and have a full sporting life. He said the young boy was now playing soccer in middle school, a moment he said that brought him back “full circle” the the young boy he once was.
“I wouldn’t wish any of my peers to go and get cancer so they could experience what it’s like to be a patient,” Grewe said. “But I learned so much during my time as a patient. It almost felt irresponsible to not go out and give back those lessons to people like me who are going through similar experiences.”