The Vancouver Canucks are celebrating what they call a very special win: success in hunting down a woman who suspected a mole on a staffer’s neck was cancerous and ended up saving his life.
On Saturday, the NHL team tweeted a letter from Brian “Red” Hamilton, an assistant equipment manager, who was looking for “a very special person” who was in the crowd during a game in October in Seattle.
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“To this woman I am trying to find, you changed my life and now I want to find you to say THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!” Hamilton wrote.
On the evening of October 23, that woman was seated behind the Canucks bench during a game against a new franchise, the Seattle Kraken, and was trying desperately to get Hamilton’s attention.
She had the idea of writing a message on her cell phone and holding it up to the glass partition separating the stands from the Canucks bench so Hamilton could read it.
The message said: “The mole on the back of your neck is possibly cancerous. Please go see a doctor!”
An hour after the team tweeted Hamilton’s letter, which quickly went viral, the Canucks managed to track down the woman — Nadia Popovici, a 22-year-old student who was recently accepted into medical school.
“I am thrilled. The whole reason the letter was written was because I really wanted her to know that her persistence and everything she did was taken seriously,” Hamilton told a press conference after Popovici was located.
He said he had never even noticed the spot that she detected, which turned out to be malignant melanoma. Doctors removed it.
“She is a hero,” Hamilton said. “I want you all to know that this isn’t about me. It’s about an incredible person taking the time to notice something concerning and then finding a way to point it out during the chaos of a hockey game.”
On Saturday night, Popovici and Hamilton met — he thanked her with a hug as the Canucks again played the Kraken in Seattle. The Canucks posted a video of the meeting.
“What an amazing way to start my journey to med school! It’s priceless. I mean I’m so happy for you that you got it checked out,” Popovici, wearing a Kraken jersey, told Hamilton.
The two teams announced during the game that they were donating $10,000 toward Popovici’s medical studies.