Hailey teen fights cancer with willpower and help from friends
By PETER BOLTZ
Express Staff Writer
George Linev is an articulate and composed young man with a clarity of
perception that comes with fighting a serious illnesscancer.
At age 15, he
knows what he wants to do with his lifeplay soccer.
To this end he knows what he has to do. Beat the cancer, stay in shape,
keep his grades up at Wood River High School and prepare for college.
He calls this "staying focused."
Linev, who with his mother came to Hailey from Bulgaria in 1998, was
diagnosed in May. According to his stepfather, Robbie Van Alstine, his prognosis is
excellent, but to insure that prognosis Linev is undergoing chemotherapy every week, with
every third week so aggressive Linev needs to be hospitalized overnight.
Soon after he was diagnosed, the Hospice of the Wood River Valley asked
Linev what was really important to him.
When he said he would like a visit by his Bulgarian best friend Deian
Milenov, Carolyn Nystrom, director of the Hospice, went right to work.
Nystrom said that arranging for someone from Bulgaria to come to the
United States is difficult, but with the help of Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and local
donors, Milenov visited Linev in August.
Because of the therapy, Linev has suffered a couple of setbacks.
He was unable to go from junior varsity to varsity soccer this year at
Wood River High, and to try for a berth on the U.S. Olympic Development Team for 2000
because of debilitating chemotherapy sessions.
But those setbacks have not kept him from realizing other goals along the
way to becoming a professional soccer player.
One of those goals was to meet the great Bulgarian soccer player Hristo
Linev still vividly remembers the 1994 World Cup when the Bulgarian
National Team beat the German National Team. ("You dont just beat the
Germans," Linev said.)
"I was on vacation with my father at the Black Sea," Linev said
in an interview, "and we were up late watching the game being broadcast from New
Jersey. Everyone in the neighborhood was up."
This was when Stoitchkov became famous, scoring one of two goals in the
last seven minutes of the quarter-final game to beat Germany, which had been ahead 1 to 0.
Iordan Letchkov scored the other one.
"Everyone went crazy," Linev said. "Everyone spilled out
into the streets screaming and yelling until six in the morning."
Stoitchkov now plays for the Major League Soccer (MLS) team the Chicago
Fire, and on Sept. 6, Linev got to meet him.
According to Victor Vander-berg, Linevs coach when he plays for the
local soccer club, Sawtooth United, an anonymous donor provided the money for him and
Linev to make the trip to Chicago to see the Fire play the Columbus Crew.
Linev was not disappointed with the experience. Before the game, the
Fires management had Linev down on the field to "slap hands" with all the
Linev then got to see Stoitchkov score one and assist in two of the
Fires three goals to the Crews one.
After the game, Linev got to meet Stoitchkov, exchange pleasantries of
"Hi" and "How are you," in Bulgarian, and then have his picture taken
with the soccer star.
Now that this goal has been met, Linev has his eyes set on another goal, a
The Make-A-Wish Foundation, a group which grants wishes to children with
life-threatening illnesses, is now at work on this.
Linevs focus is not all on himself. He has managed to give some
serious thought about what to say to others like him who are fighting cancer.
His advice: "Stay on the positive side and know you will get through
it. Look at cancer as something to go through to make you stronger, not as some sort of