A member of staff at National Hockey League club the Vancouver Canucks has thanked a fan for saving his life after she spotted a mole on his neck.
Nadia Popovici was in the stands behind Canucks assistant equipment manager Brian “Red” Hamilton on October 23 last year to watch the Vancouver team play the Seattle Kraken.
The fan, who is preparing to study at medical school, noticed a mole on the back of Mr Hamilton’s neck and alerted him to it by writing a message on her phone and pressing it against the glass that separates supporters and team members.
“She extended my life.
“I’ve got a wonderful family, I’ve got a wonderful daughter. She saved my life,” said Mr Hamilton.
“The words out of the doctor’s mouth were if I ignored that for four to five years I wouldn’t be here.
“I didn’t know it was there, she pointed it out.
“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.”
Mr Hamilton said that after Ms Popovici got his attention he had a doctor take a look at his mole.
The mole was removed and found to be cancerous, Mr Hamilton said that after having a bigger piece taken out the results had come back “negative for everything”.
After acting on Ms Popovici’s advice the Canucks staff member wanted to say thank you, but did not know her name or identity.
The team tweeted an appeal to find the fan before they returned to play Seattle at Climate Pledge Arena on January 1, and within a couple of hours had succeeded.
“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,” Mr Hamilton wrote in the appeal.
“Your instincts were right and the mole on the back of my neck was a malignant melanoma and thanks to your persistence and the quick work of our doctors, it is now gone.”
The pair were reunited ahead of the NHL game, where Mr Hamilton was able to thank Ms Popovici as the two recalled the all-important moment.
“I was so nervous to bring it up so I tried to catch you at a moment where there weren’t a lot of people around!” she told him.
“I’m so glad you saw (the message).”
Afterwards, it was announced that both teams had come together to award Ms Popovici a 10,000 dollar scholarship for medical school.