Fans do all kinds of strange things at sporting events but one exchange ended up being life saving for Vancouver Canucks assistant equipment manager Brian Hamilton. He said a fan, Nadia Popovici, pressed her cell phone against the glass separating fans from players. The message on the screen read “The mole on the back of your neck is possibly cancerous. Please go see a doctor!”
Hamilton said it was a strange thing to read at a game but he decided to have it checked out. As it turns out, Hamilton had the mole removed which was subsequently confirmed to be a melanoma tumor. At a press conference Hamilton said “She saved my life. The words out of the doctor’s mouth were if I ignored that for four to five years I wouldn’t be here. How she saw it boggles my mind. It wasn’t very big, I wear a jacket, I wear a radio on the back of my jacket. She’s a hero.”
The team wanted to reach out to Popovici somehow to thank her so they set up a social media campaign to reunite the two before the Canucks played Seattle Kraken on January 1st. As a way of saying thank you, during the second commercial break it was revealed for everyone in the Seattle Climate Fund Arena that both teams had raised $10,000 for Popovici toward medical school.
Nadia Popovici said she was just following her medical training when she noticed that the dark spot on the back of Hamilton’s neck was discolored, raised, and had irregular borders: all potential signs of the skin cancer melanoma. Popovici’s diagnosis of the melanoma was a method of identification called the “ABCDE Rule, an acronym for Asymmetry, Border, Color, Dark, and Evolving, five signs that anyone’s mole might be a common yet dangerous skin cancer.
She said “After that moment I kind of regretted it. I thought, ‘you know, that was inappropriate. I shouldn’t have brought it up, maybe he already knows about it and it’s a sensitive topic. To not know for so many months what happened to this man and to finally put a name to the face and a story, it’s been incredible and truly life-changing.”