IU Health Simon Cancer Center

A Special Kind of Love Story

Patient Stories

December 19, 2018

Gregory Cynova hadn’t seen his high school prom date for more than 40 years, but when they reconnected they knew they’d be together forever.

Wearing a Santa hat, Gregory Cynova talks enthusiastically about a recent visit with the jolly old elf. He gets a little giddy when he mentions surprising the nurses at IU Health Simon Cancer Center with trays of holiday cookies, and he grins when he tells that he will complete chemotherapy the end of the month.

But when he talks about Linda - his bride of five years – Cynova’s whole face lights up.

Gregory and Linda were born in the same hospital, attended Junction City High School in Kansas – even went to prom together – and both graduated with the class of 1965. They enrolled in Kansas State University but after two years, Gregory went on to Concordia Lutheran University and Linda remained at Kansas State where she got a degree in education. She later served as a public school teacher in Oklahoma and Kansas for 30 years with a focus on Kindergarten, First- and Second-graders. Gregory was a parochial school teacher for eight years before attending seminary in Fort Wayne. He served two congregations, Our Savior Lutheran Church, in Evansville for almost 16 years; and Trinity Lutheran Church, in Fort Wayne for 19 years. He retired at the beginning of 2013 and moved to Franklin to be closer to his daughter, Lisa Cynova.

Both Gregory and Linda married other people and life went on. But it wasn’t without a few bumps in the road.

Gregory was married for 42 years to his first wife. In addition to his daughter, they have a son, Tim, who was born in the same three-month span as Linda’s only son, Scott. She was married for 17 years.

Two days before Gregory’s 40th anniversary his first wife was diagnosed with Glioblastoma (brain cancer). She died two days after their 42nd anniversary.

Linda and Gregory were 22 when they last saw each other. After his wife died, Gregory went through his class reunion directory to find Linda’s address and wrote her a letter. She was still living in Kansas. They continued to exchange emails for about nine months. In April of 2013, Gregory made the trip to Kansas and they were engaged.

“I officially asked her to marry me on the porch of the Junction City, KS Cracker Barrel, the town where we were both born and raised,” said Gregory.

On June 9, 2013 they were married in a private garden wedding in Evansville. Linda wore a colorful sleeveless dress and a big white hat.

“I wanted to elope but he wanted a wedding,” said Linda. “All of our family attended and it was truly a special day.”

Life was good. The couple enjoyed eating out and traveling – Martha’s Vineyard, Mackinac Island, Mich., and Albuquerque, N.M.

But on April 25, 2018, Gregory was diagnosed with stomach cancer. His primary physician referred him to IU Health’s Dr. Michael House and on May 22 he underwent the Whipple procedure – a surgery to remove cancerous tumors.

“I spent 30 days in the hospital due to a couple of setbacks,” said Gregory. “My care was exceptional. That’s why I stayed at IU Health for my chemo and future health needs.” Since 2010 he receives Gamma Globulin infusions every three weeks due to a compromised immune system. And Linda is by his side.

“I pursued her in high school but she found someone else,” said Gregory. “I don’t care how long it was. I was determined to make her my bride. We’re both 71 and its never too late.”

-- By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
Reach Banes via email tfender1@iuhealth.org.

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