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How One Couple Overcame Cancer and Found Strength in Loss

A few days after their wedding on June 3, 2017, Lorenzo Vinti and Gregory DelliCarpini Jr. honeymooned in Thailand and Vietnam. Shortly after returning to Forest Hills, Queens, they decided to begin a new chapter in their careers and marriage.

Mr. DelliCarpini, now 34, quit his job as a fashion editor at Billboard magazine and shifted full time into the influencer space. He wanted to concentrate on his company, Oystercoloredvelvet, a men’s style, travel and music site. Mr. Vinti, now 41, who at the time was a treasury analyst for a credit card processing company, quit his job to manage his husband’s career.

For the next two years the couple coasted on an easy rhythm.

In August 2019, the coasting stopped when Mr. Vinti was diagnosed with testicular cancer. A biopsy revealed the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. Rounds of chemotherapy sessions followed. So did an increase in their devotion, love and need to hold onto each other.

These intense emotions did not always exist. In reality, when Mr. Vinti and Mr. DelliCarpini met in March 2012 at a weekly viewing party for HBO’s vampire series “True Blood,” there wasn’t an immediate spark. The party was hosted by their mutual friend, Marie Assante, a publicist who lived in Harlem at the time.

“I remember thinking Lorenzo was a little odd and weird and not someone I would mesh with, but he was sarcastic and funny,” said Mr. DelliCarpini.

Mr. Vinti didn’t dispute Mr. DelliCarpini’s early observations. “We were opposites: I was uncomfortable in my skin, Greg was so comfortable in his. That drew me to him,” said Mr. Vinti.

Both men attended the next viewing, and the next. Their repartee became more relaxed and there was witty, flirty banter.

“I realized I loved talking to him. He made me laugh in a way that was genuine,” said Mr. DelliCarpini, who is from Lindenhurst, N.Y. “He made me feel comfortable.”

Their friendship deepened during a group trip to Iceland in February 2013, spearheaded by Ms. Assante.

“I fell in love with him on the trip,” said Mr. Vinti, who is from Ridgewood, Queens. “I knew it would develop into something more.”

The relationship grew from there, with Mr. DelliCarpini moving into Mr. Vinti’s one-bedroom apartment in Forest Hills in August 2014.

A year later, Mr. DelliCarpini traveled to Los Angeles for business and invited Mr. Vinti along. That night, in the hotel room, Mr. DelliCarpini watched Mr. Vinti sleep, then gently woke him and proposed. He quickly said yes, and soon after gold bands were purchased at Cartier on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Calif., before returning to New York.

There was one problem. Mr. DelliCarpini was openly gay; Mr. Vinti was not. He would have to tell his family, which was something he dreaded doing his entire life.

“My parents are extremely religious,” said Mr. Vinti, who told his three siblings first, then his parents. “I felt like I was living two lives. Greg was so understanding. If I was going to have a life with this man, I had to be honest with myself and my family.”

Mr. Vinti’s parents were understanding.

In 2017 the couple were married at the Plaza hotel in Manhattan. They were among the first same-sex couples to be married in the Oak Room. Ms. Assante officiated the ceremony before 70 guests. The newlyweds were lovingly cheered on by their families and friends.

Two years later Mr. Vinti received his cancer diagnosis. Their lives changed instantly.

“I felt powerless and lost,” Mr. DelliCarpini said. “Lorenzo has always represented home. He usually takes care of me. I’m the dreamer in the clouds; he’s the earth. I didn’t know what I would do without him.”

Mr. DelliCarpini stepped up in ways that surprised both men. He scheduled and went to every appointment and treatment, prepared meals, and insisted they watch comedies. “I focused on creating an environment that was optimistic and positive for him,” Mr. DelliCarpini said. “I wanted him to know he could get through this.”

Mr. Vinti lost his hair, his skin color, and his spark. “He was halfway between the living and half not,” Mr. DelliCarpini said. “He couldn’t get out of bed. He was scared and depressed.”

Mr. Vinti said he was “afraid of dying and leaving him alone in his world,” adding that “Greg’s deep love and his ability to put my needs above his, which no one had ever done, helped me get through this.”

To keep morale high, they started looking at houses in 2019. “The apartment felt negative and of death,” Mr. DelliCarpini said. “We knew we couldn’t stay.”

They only looked at two homes in person. One was a century-old house in Sayville, N.Y., with four bedroom, two bathrooms and a pool. They put in a bid that was accepted on Halloween. The good news continued. Mr. Vinti’s tumor markers were coming down. Doctors were optimistic, and so were the men.

By March 2020, they closed on their house and started renovations. When Covid hit, the couple bunked with Mr. Vinti’s parents, staying in one of the units of their two-family home in Massapequa, N.Y.

“I felt frustrated that the world wasn’t letting us move forward,” Mr. DelliCarpini said. “We’d already been in lockdown while Lorenzo was getting treatment. We had masked and sterilized everything in 2019, saw people from car windows because Lorenzo’s immune system was so low, 2020 was a repeat.”

While Mr. Vinti was recuperating and quarantining, Mr. DelliCarpini was overseeing the renovations on their house. By late July that year, enough progress had been made so they could move in. “Suddenly we stopped saying tomorrow and started saying today,” Mr. DelliCarpini said. “We were excited about our lives, and excited to think bigger. We wanted more.”

More meant a new company. They founded Create & Align, a social media strategy agency that specializes in hospitality.

In August 2022, the fear of death and loss returned when Mr. Vinti’s father had a heart attack followed by a stroke. He stayed in the hospital on life support for several weeks.

“I felt like Lorenzo shouldn’t have to do this again,” Mr. DelliCarpini said. “I’d just gotten him back. I was scared the stress, sadness and anxiety would surge something in him.”

Mr. Vinti’s father died that month. As difficult as his father’s death was, it ignited Mr. Vinti’s desire to have a child, “and to create the bond I wanted with my father but didn’t have,” he said. “Greg always wanted to be a dad. I never knew I could get there.”

That November the couple attended a surrogacy conference and gay parenting expo hosted by Men Having Babies, at the Westin hotel in Times Square.

The couple have started the egg donor and fertility clinic process, having decided that Mr. DelliCarpini’s sperm would be used, and his cousin would be the surrogate.

“Getting married, getting cancer, having a child, none of this was in my plan,” Mr. Vinti said. “I’ve had to let go of controlling everything.”

Mr. DelliCarpini had let go of things, too. “I don’t feel scared about losing him anymore,” he said, attributing that change to Mr. Vinti’s love, dedication and grounding qualities. “He inspirers me every day. We faced death and came out stronger. I have a quiet confidence and strength I didn’t have before.”

Mr. Vinti, who is in remission, spoke similarly. “He’s the first person who has loved me for me,” he said. “He knew my authentic self before I did. I grew up thinking something was wrong with me. He proved nothing was.”

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Mohammad SHiblu

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