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[Article] This is what Luongo means to some fans


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Vancouver Sun article of a women battling cancer writing to Luongo

Link: http://www.vancouver...0973/story.html

A B.C. woman who is battling cancer wants Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo to know that

he has made the most important save of all: Her life.

Desperate to find motivation to help her cope through draining rounds of thyroid cancer treatment,

Leigh Maureen Thornton turned to her love of hockey.

Thornton, 38, a nurse who lives in Victoria, has had a tough time with her health since she was a

child, including having Crohn’s disease. She thought she’d had her share of illness in life, but then

her health worsened and in 2011, doctors told her that she had thyroid cancer and that it had

metastasized into her lymph nodes.

She was terrified. Ever the cheery optimist, Thornton now felt crushing defeat and didn’t think she

had the mental strength to endure surgery and radioactive isotope therapy.

“You hear the word cancer and you think death sentence,” she said, in an interview Saturday. “I felt

like I had been beaten back so many times in my life, and how much can one body take anyway?”

Housebound and without a voice for 10 months because of damage to her right vocal cord caused

by surgery, Thornton watched a lot of TV during recovery, mostly hockey and hockey interviews.

In the fall of 2011, she watched as Luongo continued to endure the backlash from that summer’s

Stanley Cup loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

She was shocked by how much vitriol fans hurled at the goaltender over his performance, when

really, she said, he is “the embodiment of determination.”

She began to imagine that Luongo was playing hockey as if he was trying to save his life — and it

helped her to visualize fighting for her own.

“I was reading all the criticism, and there was so much negativity, almost bullying ... yet under all that

pressure he was so mentally strong and poised,” she said.

It was then she told herself that if Luongo could block out all that negativity from people all over the

country, then perhaps she could block out the negative thoughts about dying and focus on her goal

to survive.

As she waits for a body scan in March to find out whether she is cancer free, Thornton wanted to

thank Luongo. So she wrote him a letter and posted it on Facebook, hoping he might see it one day.

In the poignant letter, she says she drew strength from watching him pick himself up every time he

was defeated.

“I wanted so badly to pull through [the cancer] but felt no strength inside me, however I watched you

play hockey in such a way as if you were trying to save your life,” she wrote.

“I drew strength from your strength. You were poised when things were tough. You made me see I

could keep it together too.”

In closing the letter, Thornton writes to Luongo: “You may not know this but you made another save

... My Life.”

Although she has yet to find out whether the cancer is gone, Thornton said her doctors have told

her that her blood work looks good, she feels healthy and has more energy, and doesn’t have any of

the symptoms of cancer.

And who knows, said Thornton, maybe if the fans stopped complaining all the time and booing

Luongo on the ice, he would play better. “People don’t feed off bad energy, it just brings you down,”

she said.

Thornton also credits the support from her mom, dad and brother as well as friends for helping her

pull through.

“The body follows the mind, so I decided I have to remain positive. If you are positive and so are the

people around you, your body feeds off that,” she said.

Stephanie Conrad, a childhood friend from Ucluelet, described Thornton as someone of enormous

strength who, despite having to overcome so many health struggles, always has “such a positive


Here is the letter:

Dear Roberto,

I am sure you’ve heard this a million times before, so I struggle with how to [start] out here.

You are,”Number 1,” to me in so many ways.....

Of course, you are the greatest goalie there ever was or is.

Your love for the game of hockey is palpable.

You wear your heart on your sleeve when it comes to what you do.

And for that, here in Canada, thank you.

You show the class and grace of a professional athlete at all times;

Qualities such as these, to me, make you stand out even more positively and you make such a great

role model for the youth of today.....

But more importantly.....

You. (and this is where I get choked up), are the embodiment of DETERMINATION.

Why? Because while you kept picking yourself up each time you felt defeated, I watched you while I

battled this evil existence known as cancer. (I purposefully did not capitalize the word cancer so as

to not give it more power).

You see, I was knocked down so many times previous to this cancer that I was desperately seeking

any source of possible motivation. I wanted so badly to pull through it but felt no strength inside me,

however I watched you play hockey in such a way as if you were trying to save your life.

I drew strength from your strength.

You were poised when things were tough,

You made me see I could keep it together too.

I want the world to know that while many may criticize you for the times you didn’t make saves,

there was AT LEAST one girl who was not only praising your ABILITY, but feeling your determination

and grit and being inspired.

I want the world to know that while they criticize or focus on what didn’t go right in a hockey game,

there are more important things to think about like the strength of the human spirit, the ability to

inspire each other, and the fact that with a bit of teamwork and humanity, we can all get through

challenges in life.

... And lastly, you may not know this but you made another save....My Life.


Leigh Maureen Thornton


© Copyright © The Vancouver Sun

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Schneider is a great guy, great goalie, I like the guy, but I don't think he will ever have the impact Roberto Luongo has had on this team, city and as written here on the fans.

He is the heart and soul of this team and city, although he may get moved, this team and city will never be the same without him.

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Luongo's a hero to many people.

Played a huge part in our community, but people don't realize this. He's put tones of work into what happens outside of the game.

Where ever Luongo goes or stays in Vancouver he'll always be my favorite player ever.

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Guest Gumballthechewy

People that hate Luongo only think of just hockey. To some important people he will always be a hero to them and that is something that nobody can ever take from him.

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Wow this absolutely beautiful.

I love how she gathered strength from Lu, being a hockey player is more than being on the ice it's how you deal with everything off the ice. And Lu is a perfect example of how it's done. The way he handled all of the trade rumours through the very long offseason, brushing it off and even making humour out of it via twitter amazes me. Suddenly fans everywhere began to like him, but really he was the same guy all along.

The way she was able to draw from this and find inspiration for herself just shows her very strong character. I really do wish her well, for a fan that stuck by Lu when she needed him the most.

Lu wherever you end up, you've been an inspiration and a symbol to tons here in Vancouver. Your grace and poise through everything is astonishing and I really hope by some luck you end up here for awhile. You drew me into hockey and I'll never forget that. I'll Luuuu until I die.

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