On October 23, Vancouver Canucks assistant equipment manager Brian "Red" Hamilton was on the ice when he noticed a Seattle Kraken fan banging on the glass to catch his attention.
The woman was persistent, and as Hamilton was shuffling supplies and leaving the bench, he saw the woman's phone with a message written in large, colorful font:
"The mole on the back of your neck is cancer."ESPN
Her instincts were right. Hamilton had the mole biopsied and doctors diagnosed him with malignant melanoma in phase 2. "Thanks to the persistence and quick work of our doctors, it is now gone," wrote Hamilton in a January 1 post. As the story gained traction on social media, Yukyung Nelson identified the heroic fan was her daughter.
"Oh my gosh!!! This was my daughter!!!" Nelson wrote in a Facebook comment. "She just got accepted into multiple medical schools. We have season tickets behind the opposing team and she noticed the mole on the back of his neck so she typed a message into her phone and knocked on the glass window to get his attention. She finally got his attention and he looked quickly and then nodded. We didn't think anymore of it. This is absolutely amazing!"
22-year-old Nadia Popovici is a University of Washington graduate and aspiring physician with experience volunteering in an oncology ward.
"I saw his and I was like, wow, that is a picture perfect example of what a melanoma looks like," Popovici said to the Associated Press.
The Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks announced a joint gift of $10,000 to help with her medical school expenses.
Hamilton told the AP "I understand I'm a part of the story, but she needs to know she's the story," Hamilton said. "She's the person that did this. She saved the life. … She needs to know her efforts were valid and bang on."