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Seattle Kraken, Canucks team up to help woman who likely saved staff member’s life

The woman behind the Canucks bench likely saved the assistant equipment manager's life by telling him a mole on his neck was cancer.
Credit: AP
Seattle Kraken fan Nadia Popovici poses for a photo before an NHL hockey game between the Kraken and the Vancouver Canucks, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, in Seattle. Popovici is showing the text of a message she showed to Canucks assistant equipment manager Brian "Red" Hamilton on Oct. 23, 2021, as she sat behind the Canucks' bench during the Kraken's home-opener hockey game. The message expressed Popovici's concern that she believed a mole on the back of Hamilton's neck was cancerous and that he needed to get it checked. A few days later, doctors removed it and biopsy results showed there were cancerous cells in the mole. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

SEATTLE — The Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks are giving a medical student $10,000 for her tuition after she saved the life of Brian “Red” Hamilton, the Canadian team’s assistant equipment manager.

It all happened during the Kraken’s first-ever home game at Climate Pledge Arena.

The woman, identified as Nadia Popovici, was seated behind the Canucks bench, according to Hamilton. As the team was leaving the bench, the woman knocked on the glass to show Hamilton her phone, on which she wrote a message telling him that the mole on the back of his neck was cancer.

Hamilton said he later got the mole checked out after the woman’s message prompted him to get some preliminary guidance from the team’s doctors. Hamilton said they didn’t like the look of it, and when he went to his doctor, he learned that it was malignant melanoma.

Thanks to the early detection by the woman, Hamilton was able to have the cancerous tumor removed before it grew deeper than his skin.

“That evening, Oct. 23rd, and the message you showed me on your cell phone will forever be etched into my brain and has made a true life-changing difference for me and my family,” said Hamilton in a letter.

The letter, which was shared on the Canucks’ and Krakens’ Twitter pages Saturday, helped the teams track down the woman who gave Hamilton that life-saving message.

In an interview the Canucks shared on its Twitter page after the woman was found, Hamilton said, “She extended my life. I’ve got a wonderful family, I’ve got a wonderful daughter. She saved my life.”

He said that the doctor told him that if he’d ignored the mole for another four to five years, it would have been fatal.

“She’s a hero,” Hamilton said.  

The letter was shared on Twitter around 10 a.m. With the community's help, the Kraken announced that the woman had been found shortly after 11:30 a.m.


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