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 lot in life of illness, 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?"