A cryptic cell phone message from a Seattle Kraken fan is credited with possibly saving the life of the Canucks assistant equipment manager, Brian “Red” Hamilton, during a NHL game on October 23rd, 2021.
The fan, Nadia Popovici, typed the message on her smartphone in a large font and pressed it against the plexiglass, warning Hamilton that the mole on the back of his neck was cancerous and that he needed to get it checked out…ASAP.
“I saw his and I was like, wow, that is a picture perfect example of what a melanoma looks like,” Popovici said. As it turned out, her long distance diagnosis was correct.
While watching a Vancouver Canucks hockey game, Nadia Popovici spotted a troubling mole on the neck of Brian Hamilton, an assistant equipment manager. So she wrote him a message and held it up to the plexiglass. It saved his life.https://t.co/ZPpCzaneua— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 3, 2022
After seeing the message, Hamilton recalled, “I felt bad at the moment because I’m walking off the bench and she put her phone up to the glass and on the phone it said the mole on the back of your neck is cancer. And it threw me off. So I kind of just shrugged and kept going. My initial response when I found out was I felt bad because I felt like I didn’t really give her the time of day. I’m excited that she knows because she needs to know.”
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The team posted a message from Hamilton on Saturday retelling the incident hoping that Popovici would see the message and respond. He wanted to personally meet and thank her for warning him.
Within less than an hour, both the Canucks and Seattle Kraken had been contacted by the 22-year-old fan. The duo met for about 90 minutes Saturday night, before Seattle and Vancouver squared off.
“The fact that I got to look him in the eye and hear what happened from his perspective. Imagine how jarring that is to for you to be at work and someone just kind of looks at you and says, ‘Hey, maybe you go see a doctor.’ That’s not what you want to hear, so the fact that I got to see him and talk to his family members that have been really impacted by him dodging a big bullet — that’s so special.”
During Saturday’s game, midway through the first period, both teams publicly retold the story of what happened, and how Popovici, who just graduated from the University of Washington, intends to go to medical school next year. During that announcement, both teams pledged a joint gift of $10,000 to help Popovici with her medical school expenses.
Together with the @SeattleKraken, we awarded Nadia Popovici a $10,000 scholarship for medical school as a show of our appreciation 👏 pic.twitter.com/VgK8aMgJTA— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 2, 2022
Hamilton has been with the Canucks for nearly 20 years, starting with the team back in 2002. He was amazed that with all of the chaos taking place around the bench during a typical NHL game and the fact that Popovici was sitting at a distance in the stands behind a plexiglass barrier, she was still able to notice a mole in the back of his neck that he had no idea even existed.
“How she saw it boggles my mind,” Hamilton said. “It wasn’t very big. I wear a jacket. I wear a radio on the back of my jacket that hooks on so the cords are there.”