Hockey fan who spotted Vancouver Canucks staffer's cancerous mole awarded medical school scholarship

ITV News Reporter Ellie Pitt explains how a hockey fan helped save the life of one of the team managers

A woman who alerted a Canadian hockey manager to a cancerous mole on the back of his neck has been awarded a $10,000 scholarship after a social media hunt by Vancouver Canucks managed to track her down.

Assistant equipment manager Brian “Red” Hamilton was in the middle of moving equipment during a game on October 23 in Seattle when he noticed a woman behind the bench pressing her phone against the plexiglass.

The message in large font read: "The mole on the back of your neck is possibly cancerous. Please go see a doctor!"

Nadia Popovici message to Hamilton Credit: AP

It turned out she was right.

Hamilton soon saw a doctor who identified the mole as cancerous and it was swiftly removed before it could spread, potentially saving his life.

On January 1 the Vancouver Canucks and their opponents at the October 23 game the Seattle Kraken began a social media hunt on Twitter by posting a letter calling for the internet to track down the woman who showed the message to Hamilton.

Less than an hour later they found 22-year-old Nadia Popovici.The pair managed to meet before the New Year's Day game between the Canucks and the Kraken.

“The fact that I got to look him in the eye and hear what happened from his perspective,” said Popovici, who graduated from the University of Washington and intends to attend medical school in the next year.

She said: “Imagine how jarring that is to for you to be at work and someone just kind of looks at you and says, ‘Hey, maybe you go see a doctor.’ That’s not what you want to hear. So the fact that I got to see him and talk to his family members that have been really impacted by him dodging a big bullet that’s so special.”

In a video of the meetup posted by the Kanucks Hamilton said: “I felt bad at the moment because I’m walking off the bench and she put her phone up to the glass and on the phone it said the mole on the back of your neck is cancer. And it threw me off.”

“So I kind of just shrugged and kept going. My initial response when I found out was I felt bad because I felt like I didn’t really give her the time of day. I’m excited that she knows because she needs to know.”

The Seattle Kraken team acknowledged the story of what happened midway through the first period of their January 1 game to a standing ovation from the crowd and announced both franchises would be giving Popovici a joint scholarship of $10,000 to help with her medical school expenses.“How she saw it boggles my mind,” Hamilton said. “It wasn’t very big. I wear a jacket. I wear a radio on the back of my jacket that hooks on so the cords are there.”

Popovici said she’s done a lot of volunteer work in hospitals including a stint helping 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.