It was a story that went viral almost immediately, and for good reason.
When Vancouver Canucks assistant equipment manager Brian “Red” Hamilton published a message through the teams’ social channels asking for help in finding a Seattle Kraken fan who saved his life, social media users sprung into action.
Nadia Popovici, a soon-to-be medical student who was in attendance behind the Canucks’ bench for the team’s preseason game in Seattle against the Kraken, noticed something that didn’t look quite right on Hamilton’s neck.
Popovici went to great lengths to get Hamilton’s attention, pressing her phone up against the glass, where Hamilton said he read the words “the mole on the back of your neck is cancer” in big, colourful lettering.
Hamilton says he asked the Canucks’ doctors for their opinion on it, and they didn’t like the look of it either, and after further testing, it was revealed to indeed be cancerous.
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“The words out of the doctor’s mouth were if I ignored that for four to five years, I wouldn’t be here,” said Hamilton. “I didn’t know it was there, she pointed it out — 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 so hooks and chords are there — like, she’s a hero. I wish she was sitting here so that you guys could talk to her about what a great human being she is.”
Hamilton and Popovici met after a Canucks game, where Popovici was surprised with a visit from the Sedin twins who wanted to thank her for her heroic act.
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Now, Popovici and Hamilton will be reuniting as presenters on this year’s NHL Awards broadcast.
In a media release, the league said:
The presenters for the 2022 NHL Awards include individuals whose stories of resilience moved and inspired the hockey community this season. Among the presenters will be Seattle Kraken fan Nadia Popovici, who rose to worldwide fame after pointing out a cancerous mole on the neck of Vancouver Canucks assistant equipment manager Red Hamilton. Popovici and Hamilton will reunite as part of the broadcast.
Other inspiring figures presenting during the live show include Calgary Flames assistant general manager and ALS survivor and advocate Chris Snow as well as his wife, Kelsie, and children, Cohen and Willa; Milton Academy (Mass.) hockey player Jake Thibeault, who was paralyzed by an injury in September 2021; and emergency backup goalie Thomas Hodges, who overcame blindness in one eye to play in a game for the Anaheim Ducks this season. Martin Lafleur, the son of the late Guy Lafleur, also will present an award.
The NHL Awards show takes place on June 21st live from Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay. The show begins at 4 PM Pacific and can be seen on ESPN in the U.S. and Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.
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