A Seattle Kraken fan is being praised as a hero — and awarded $10,000 — after helping the assistant equipment manager of the Vancouver Canucks identify a cancerous mole on his neck in the middle of a game.
The incident occurred on Oct. 23, in the Kraken’s first-ever home game in Seattle.
Nadia Popovici, a 22-year-old Seattle resident originally from Canada, was sitting behind the Canucks bench that day when she noticed an irregularly shaped mole on the back of staffer Brian (Red) Hamilton’s neck.
Popovici, who is going to medical school next year, said the mole caught her eye as Hamilton walked across the bench between periods.
“I spotted some of the classic signs, you know, irregular borders, a little bit of discoloration and a pretty large diameter,” Popovici told CBC News.
“I thought, you know, it can’t hurt just to say something.”
Popovici then held up a note on her phone to the plexiglass behind the Canucks bench, alerting Hamilton and telling him the mole could possibly be cancerous.
Though Hamilton says he initially brushed off the note, he later had the team doctor check it out and discovered it was a malignant melanoma that could have had life-threatening consequences if it was left untreated.
“She saved my life,” he told a news conference 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 Canucks had posted a callout on Twitter on Saturday trying to find the fan who alerted Hamilton to the mole on the back of his neck. Two hours later, they tweeted that she had been found.
Hamilton said he wrote the callout to let Popovici know that her persistence was rewarded and called her a “great human being.”
“I’m just so happy that he has gotten it removed and we can move forward,” Popovici said. “Hopefully he lives a very, very long life and we can all celebrate this moment for a while.”