“The mole on the back of your neck is possibly cancerous. Please go see a doctor!”
It was a strange thing for Vancouver Canucks assistant equipment manager Brian Hamilton to see on the screen of a cell phone belonging to a fan who had pressed it against the glass separating fans from players.
Fans do all kinds of strange things at sporting events, but Nadia Popovici was 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.
As it turns out, Hamilton had the mole removed which was subsequently confirmed to be a melanoma tumor.
“… She saved my life,” Mr. Hamilton said at a press conference. “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, and so set up a social media campaign to reunite the two before the Canucks played Seattle Kraken on January 1st, which succeeded.
As a way of saying thank you, during the second commercial break it was revealed for everyone in the Seattle Climate Fund Arena to see, that both teams had raised $10,000 to send Popovici to medical school.
What Popovici described in her 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.
“After that moment I kind of regretted it,” Popovici told Sky News of her typed-out phone warning. “I thought, ‘you know, that was inappropriate it, 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,” she added.