|Roberto Luongo was the source of inspiration for a fan battling cancer. (USPressWire)|
Roberto Luongo is set to make his fourth consecutive start Monday night as he continues to become one of the better stories of the young NHL season. He's been playing awfully well for the Vancouver Canucks despite all of the rumors and speculation swirling around the big goaltender's future with the team.
Often prone to an annual piling on of scrutiny, the public perception of Luongo has often been divisive. Despite his immense skills, unfavorable results in the playoffs and perhaps most notably in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, Luongo is often the one shouldering blame.
Luongo has never been without fans, but one fan in particular has been inspired by how the goaltender handled his annual public plight. So much so that she decided to write a letter to Luongo and post it to Facebook in the hopes that he might eventually see it.
Leigh Maureen Thornton is suffering from thyroid cancer. In 2011, she was told the cancer had mediatized to her lymph nodes. In the face of such devastating news, Thornton was inspired by Luongo's poise under the seemingly crushing pressure he was under and drew strength from it as she explained to The Vancouver Sun.
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.
Here is the letter Thornton wrote to Luongo in full, via The Sun:
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