“The mole on the back of your neck is cancer.”
Vancouver Canucks assistant equipment manager Brian “Red” Hamilton wasn’t exactly in the right headspace to process the message a Seattle Kraken fan pressed against the plexiglass behind the bench during the Oct. 23 NHL matchup, but he didn’t want the Good Samaritan to think he ignored her warning, ESPN reported.
“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 wrote in a plea to find the mystery woman, which was posted to the Canucks’ official Twitter account on New Year’s Day.
“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,” Hamilton wrote.
Shortly after the post went live, the Kraken tweeted that the mystery fan’s identity had been confirmed, USA Today reported.
And as luck would have it, 22-year-old Nadia Popovici will soon be entering medical school, and both teams have committed to donating a combined $10,000 toward her medical education as a token of their appreciation for her selfless, unsolicited act, the newspaper reported.
“When (Popovici) pointed it out, I had never seen it. It was on the back of my neck. I didn’t even know it was there,” Hamilton told the news outlet via Zoom. “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 of my mind that she was right.”
According to ESPN, Hamilton’s biopsy revealed that the mole was a phase two malignant melanoma, meaning the cancer had not yet penetrated the skin’s inner layer.
“(Popovici) extended my life. She saved my life,” Hamilton told the sports news network on Saturday. “She didn’t take me out of a burning car like [in] the big stories, but she took me out of a slow fire. The words out of the doctor’s mouth were if I ignored that for four to five years, I wouldn’t be here.”
And Hamilton actually has Popovici’s mother to thank for helping him find his hero.
Yukyung Nelson, a member of the Ladies of the Kraken Facebook group, saw the Canucks’ plea and instantly knew who Hamilton was seeking, ESPN reported.
“Oh my gosh!!! This was my daughter!!!” Nelson wrote. “She just got accepted into multiple medical schools. We have season tickets behind the opposing team, and she noticed the mole on the back of his neck, so she typed a message into her phone and knocked on the glass window to get his attention. She finally got his attention and he looked quickly and then nodded. We didn’t think anymore of it. This is absolutely amazing!”
Meanwhile, Hamilton and Popovici were finally reconnected about 90 minutes before Saturday night’s rematch between the two teams, ESPN reported.
“Imagine how jarring that is ... 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,” Popovici told the network.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
©2022 Cox Media Group