When Nadia Popovici spotted a small mole on the back of Brian Hamilton’s neck last October, during an NHL game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Seattle Kraken, she was unsure if the Canucks’ assistant equipment manager was aware it was there.
Gaining Hamilton’s attention, she wrote a message on her phone and pressed it against the plexiglass dividing the crowd from the ice.
“The mole on the back of your neck is possibly cancerous,” the 22-year old fan wrote. “Please go see a doctor!"
“Mole”, “cancer” and “doctor” were picked out in bright red letters.
Popovici later told the Seattle Times that she had volunteered at hospitals, “surrounded with a lot of melanomas”. So when she saw the diameter, raised shape and “irregular border” of the mole on Hamilton’s neck, she knew she had to alert him.
Hamilton looked at the message. He later said that he pensó: "Bien, that’s weird.”
He rubbed the back of his neck and continued walking. But later that evening, he asked his partner if she could see the mole. When she said she could, Hamilton consulted a team doctor – who “didn’t like the looks of it either”.
Hamilton had the mole removed and tested. It proved to be a type 2 malignant melanoma, a skin cancer that is curable if caught early. Dentro de una semana, Hamilton was cancer-free.
En sábado, Hamilton posted a call-out message on the Canucks Twitter page.
“I am trying to find a very special person … [OMS] changed my life," el escribio. “That evening, 23 octubre, and the message you showed me on your cellphone will forever be etched into my brain and has made a true life-changing difference for me and my family.”
Hamilton added his thanks for the fan who went “to great lengths to get my attention from the stands while I did my job on the Canucks bench. We are looking for this incredible person and we need you to share this with your friends and families to help us find a real-life hero, so I can express my sincerest gratitude.”
Within hours, Popovici was found. She had been asleep at home in Tacoma, Washington, after working overnight at a suicide crisis center in Seattle.
As a Kraken season ticket-holder, she already planned to attend that night’s game between the Canucks and Kraken. Both teams invited her to meet Hamilton.
“It was your effort and your persistence … the way you wrote it on your phone,” Hamilton said during an emotional meeting. “I owe it to this person to get checked, if she went this far. I don’t know her, I don’t know anything about her.”
Popovici told Hamilton: “What an amazing way to start my journey to med school. It’s pretty priceless.”
During a timeout in Saturday’s game, the Canucks and Kraken Anunciado a $10,000 scholarship for Popovici, towards medical school tuition. Popovici, who sat in the same seat from which she spotted Hamilton’s mole, was overcome with emotion.
The Canucks won 5-2. They later tuiteó a picture of Hamilton and Popovici taking a selfie together. The caption: “The biggest win tonight.”