Friday, January 28, 2022

Canucks equipment manager meets Kraken fan who spotted cancerous mole on his neck at game: ‘She saved my life’

Seattle Kraken fan Nadia Popovici went to watch her favorite team play the Vancouver Canucks back in October, but instead of just enjoying a night of hockey, she helped extend the life of Canucks’ assistant equipment manager Brian “Red” Hamilton. Popovici, a graduate of the University of Washington who plans to soon attend medical school, was sitting near the Canucks bench on Oct. 23 and, using the notes app on her cell phone, got Hamilton’s attention in between periods while he was moving equipment. 

The note on her phone explained to him that a mole on the back of his neck looked cancerous. Three months later, Popovici has been proven correct.

After the team returned to Vancouver following the game in Seattle, Hamilton had team doctors look at the mole. It was removed shortly thereafter and then biopsied, according to the Associated Press. The biopsy results showed that the mole did have cancerous cells.

Doctors told Hamilton that the situation could have become “life-threatening” if it wasn’t caught as early as it was, the AP reported.

Hamilton never got the name of the fan who spotted the mole, so the Canucks posted a letter from the manager in an attempt to find the person he calls his hero. The tweet worked and the 22-year-old was identified. 

The two were able to meet up on Saturday and Hamilton expressed his appreciation for her actions in person.

“The message you showed me on your cell phone will forever be etched into my brain and has made a true life-changing difference for me and my family.,” Hamilton said. “Your instincts were right and that mole on the back on my neck was a malignant melanoma and thanks to your persistence and the quick work of doctors, it is now gone.”

The Kraken and Canucks donated $10,000 towards Popovici’s medical education as a token of their collective appreciation.

Her reaction to the donation was priceless:

“When she pointed it out, I had never seen it. It was on the back of my neck,” Hamilton said. “I didn’t even know it was there. So then when I started asking people, like doctors with the team, they didn’t like the looks of it either. So I got scared right off the hop. I knew in the back on my mind that she was right.”

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