Woman Diagnosed with Breast Cancer After It Was Detected by Tourist Attraction's Thermal Camera

"I cannot tell you enough about how my visit to the Camera Obscura changed my life," Berkshire resident Bal Gill said

thermal image helps woman detect breast cancer
Photo: Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

A Scottish family vacation provided one U.K. woman with a potentially life-saving discovery.

When walking through the Thermal Camera at Camera Obscura & World of Illusions with her family on a trip to Edinburgh in May, 41-year-old Bal Gill noticed an odd heat patch on her left breast, which led to a breast cancer diagnosis.

In a feature on the World of Illusions website, Gill explained that she and her family visited Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, with her family during the school holidays in May of this year. The Berkshire resident said that after visiting the Edinburgh Castle, they saw the museum and decided to go in.

“While making our way through the floors we got to the thermal imaging camera room,” she said. “As all families do, we entered and started to wave our arms and look at the images created.”

But while posing for the camera, Gill “noticed a heat patch (red in color) coming from my left breast. We thought it was odd and having looked at everyone else they didn’t have the same. I took a picture and we carried on and enjoyed the rest of the museum.”

After the vacation, Gill came across the image while looking at photos from the trip and again noticed the odd heat patch.

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“At this point, I searched on Google to see what this could mean and I saw a lot of articles about breast cancer and thermal imaging cameras,” she said. “I made an appointment with the doctor and as it turns out I do have breast cancer, thankfully really early stages.”

Gill has had two surgeries since the discovery, and has one more planned to prevent the cancer from spreading in her body.

Gill said that her walk through the Thermal Camera “changed her life,” and expressed gratitude to the museum for helping her catch her breast cancer in early stages.

“I just wanted to say thank you: without that camera, I would never have known,” she said. “I know it’s not the intention of the camera but for me, it really was a life-changing visit. I cannot tell you enough about how my visit to the Camera Obscura changed my life.”

The museum’s general manager, Andrew Johnson, said on the World of Illusions website that they did not know the Thermal Camera had the “potential to detect life-changing symptoms in this way,” and said that the team was “really moved” after hearing Gill’s story.

“It’s amazing that Bal noticed the difference in the image and crucially acted on it promptly,” he said. “We wish her all the best with her recovery and hope to meet her and her family in the future.”

While thermal imaging was a surprise success for Gill, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that it’s no substitute for getting a mammogram, and warns against using thermography as those who use it “may miss the chance to detect cancer at its earliest stage.”

“Thermography has not been shown to be effective as a standalone test for either breast cancer screening or diagnosis in detecting early stage breast cancer,” the FDA’s website says.

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