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NHL Fan Saves the Life of Vancouver Canucks Team Staffer

Want a feel good story? We've got a feel good story.

We're now close to entering the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, so every bit of news that can bring joy or hope feels like an act of service. The story begins October 23 at the Seattle Kraken's first-ever home game versus the Vancouver Canucks. 

Brian Hamilton is an assistant equipment manager for the Vancouver Canucks. As the game was ending and Hamilton was clearing off the bench and putting things away, a fan in the stands named Nadia Popovici had a message typed on her phone and frantically was trying to get Hamilton's attention. The message was in the biggest font she could fit onto the screen, with a few keywords illuminated in red font.

 "The mole on the back of your neck is possibly cancerous. Please go see a doctor!"

The words "mole," "cancer," and "doctor," were in bright red, as Popovici hoped it would get the attention of Hamilton. Hamilton said he did not think too much of the message at the time and brushed it off, whereas Popovici felt a sense of embarrassment and regret over bringing it up. 

How often does a stranger, especially in the setting of a professional sporting event, go out of their way to tell you that something visible on your body, could be an issue? It is a delicate topic, and one that took a lot of altruistic guts from Popovici, all of 22 years old, to address. 

Giving It A Second Thought

Hamilton asked his wife to take a look at the mole the next morning, where they noted its odd shape. The Canucks team doctor did not like the look of the mole either, apparently, and Hamilton's mole was removed within days of Popovici pointing it out to him. A biopsy revealed malignant melanoma in situ 2. This meant that the tumor was only affecting the outer skin, and removing it was the early detection needed for it to have been a serious problem only a year or so down the line. At a news conference on Saturday, Hamilton expressed his gratitude and shock.

"She didn't take me out of a burning car like the big stories, but she took me out of a slow fire. And the words out of the doctor's mouth were, if I ignored that for four to five years, I wouldn't be here,

Hamilton remembered the physician's words. “I’m going to diagnose you with cancer and I’m going to cure you of cancer in the same phone call.”

Finding The Good Samaritan

After Hamilton had his health squared away, the task shifted to finding the person whose observations saved his life. The Vancouver Canucks' team Twitter posted a letter, asking for help to find Popovici.

Offering Gratitude

Ms. Popovici was found. She works as a crisis intervention specialist at a suicide prevention hotline. As if this young woman couldn't be more impressive already. Amazingly enough, Popovici had already been planning on attending Saturday night's Seattle Kraken game, and Hamilton and Popovici were able to reunite.

Hamilton let Popovici know his gratitude and the gratitude of his family members around him, especially his mother who wanted Popovici to know she loved her. The surprises didn't end with their reunion, as during the game both the Seattle Kraken and the Vancouver Canucks surprised Popovici with a gift to begin her journey into medical school.

Final Thoughts

It is now fully cliche to say we are living in "unprecedented times." Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started the world has gotten more difficult to manage, regardless of how much one has been affected personally. As a society we're bombarded with bad news, eroding hope for the future, and stories we'd rather forget. It is important to read a good story, for our health and for the reminder: It's good to be reminded that doing something considerate for another person is always the right choice.