The hockey fan notices the cancer mole in the game and delivers a life-saving note

Nadia Popovichi kept her eyes on the hockey game from the back of the hockey game to Brian Hamilton.

Mr. Hamilton, Vancouver Canucks’ assistant equipment manager, had a small mole there. It is about two centimeters in size and has an irregular shape and a reddish-brown color – possible characteristics of a cancerous mole, signs that Ms. Popovic learned to notice while volunteering in hospitals as a nurse.

Maybe he already knew? But if so, why is the mole still there? She concluded that Mr. Hamilton did not know.

“I have to tell him,” Popovichi, 22, told her parents at the Oct. 23 NHL game between Canucks and the Seattle Kraken at the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle.

Mrs. Popovic wrote a message on her phone and waited for the end of the game. After waving a few times, she finally caught Mr. Hamilton’s attention and placed her phone on the Plexiglas.

“The mole in the back of your neck is probably cancerous. Please go to the doctor! ” the message was read in the words “mole,” “cancer,” and “doctor,” in bright red.

Mr. Hamilton said he looked at the message, rubbed the back of his head, and kept walking, thinking, “Well, that’s weird.”

Ms Popovici said she was sorry for the message and then thought, “Maybe it’s inappropriate for me to mention that.”

After the match, Mr. Hamilton went home and asked his partner if he could spot the mole. She could. He asked the team doctor if he was worried. It was. After removing it, he waited for the biopsy results to see if the fan sitting behind the team bench was right.

Indeed, Mrs. Popovichi was right and had just saved his life.

“She pulled me out of the slow fire,” Mr. Hamilton said in a News conference on Saturday, his voice trembled at times. “And the doctor’s words were that if I ignored this for four to five years, I wouldn’t be here.”

In particular, doctors later told him it was malignant melanoma type 2, a type of skin cancer that, since detected early, could be easily removed and treated.

“With melanoma, like many other cancers, the success of treatment or cure often depends on the stage of the disease – and the sooner you find something, the better,” said Dr. Ashwani Rajput, director of the Center for Cancer. cancer of John Hopkins Kimmel.

Mr. Hamilton recalls that his doctor told him, “I will diagnose you with cancer and cure you of cancer in the same phone call.”

Realizing that he was fine, Mr. Hamilton asked the Canucks franchise to help him find the woman he described as a “hero.”

Mr. Hamilton wrote a letter which was posted on the team’s Twitter account on Saturday, which said: “To this woman I’m trying to find, you changed my life and now I want to find you to tell you VERY MUCH! The problem is, I don’t know who you are or where you come from. “

It took less than three hours to find Ms. Popovichi, who was sleeping at her home in Tacoma, Washington, that afternoon after working all night as a suicide prevention crisis response specialist.

She woke up to text messages and missed calls from her mother, Yukung Nelson. “I think she was just shocked,” Ms. Nelson said.

Ms. Popovichi, who was already planning to attend Saturday’s match between Canucks and Kraken in Seattle, was invited by both teams to meet with Mr Hamilton.

He had just finished the press conference about what had happened. Referring to Ms. Popovichi, he told reporters: “My mother wants her to know that she loves her.”

Later that afternoon, he personally repeated Ms. Popovichi’s message.

“It was the sweetest thing when she talked about her mother,” she told him when they first met properly.

“Some people say it won’t even be a drop in the bucket, but believe me, I feel like everything,” she said. “I’m really so grateful.”

She was watching the match from the same spot where she had spotted the mole. Everything, she thought, was fine that day: a future medical student was sitting close enough to the team bench, where fortunately the assistant equipment manager wasn’t wearing a jacket big enough to cover the cancerous mole on his neck.

“This whole experience was so rare,” Ms. Popovici said. “And I’ll just appreciate it.”

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