Vancouver Canucks employee Brian Hamilton thanks Seattle Kraken fan

SEATTLE (AP) – Brian “Red” Hamilton was moving equipment across the Vancouver Canucks bench between periods on October 23 in Seattle when he noticed a woman behind the bench leaning her phone against the plexiglass .

The message on his phone was in large print and caught the attention of Hamilton, the Canucks’ assistant equipment manager. The post expressed Nadia Popovici’s concern that she believed a mole on Hamilton’s neck was cancerous and that he needed to get it checked out.

It turned out she was right.

“I was feeling bad right now because I was walking away from the bench and she put her phone against the glass and on the phone he said the mole on the back of my neck was cancer. And that upset me, ”Hamilton recalled Saturday before the Canucks played their second game of the season in Seattle. “So I kind of shrugged and continued. My first reaction when I found out was that I felt bad because I felt like I wasn’t really giving it to him. time of day I’m glad she knows because she needs to know.

The Canucks posted a letter from Hamilton Saturday, telling the story of it all and expressing his thanks and desire to meet the woman in question. In just an hour, the Canucks and Seattle Kraken said 22-year-old Popovici had been contacted after spending New Years Eve working in a crisis hotline. The pair were able to meet about 90 minutes before the Kraken and Canucks played on Saturday night.

“The fact that I was able to look him in the eye and hear what happened from his point of view,” said Popovici, a graduate of the University of Washington and intending to attend medical school. next year. “Imagine how shocking it is for you to be at work and someone sort of looking at you and saying, ‘Hey, maybe you go see a doctor. This is not what you want to hear. So the fact that I got to see him and talk to his family members who were really touched by him dodging a big bullet, it’s so special.

Hamilton has been with the Canucks for nearly 20 years, starting with the team in 2002. Amid the chaos around the bench in an NHL game, Hamilton said he was amazed Popovici had even noticed a mole he didn’t even know existed.

“How she saw it is beyond me,” said Hamilton. “It wasn’t very big. I am wearing a jacket. I wear a radio on the back of my jacket which hangs on so that the chords are there.

Popovici said she did a lot of volunteer work in hospitals, including a stint in an oncology department.

“I saw hers and I was like, wow, that’s a perfect example of what melanoma looks like,” Popovici said.

The game in Seattle in October was the final stop on the Canucks’ maiden road trip. Days after returning to Vancouver, Hamilton asked medics on the team to examine the mole in question. When they expressed concern, Hamilton had it removed a few days later and sent it in for a biopsy.

The biopsy results came back showing that there were cancer cells in the mole. A larger area of ​​skin around the mole was then removed for examination and Hamilton said it came back negative.

Hamilton was told by his doctors that mole cancer could have turned fatal within a few years if it had not been treated.

“It was only on the outer layer of my skin,” Hamilton said. “It hadn’t penetrated until the second layer of my skin and that’s because we caught it so early.”

Hamilton said the sole purpose of telling his story and getting the letter out was to recognize Popovici for his efforts to get his attention and craft the post.

“I understand that I’m part of the story, but she needs to know that she is the story,” Hamilton said. “This is the person who did this. She saved her life. … She needs to know that her efforts were worthwhile and to move on.

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