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While on a fun-filled family trip to Edinburgh in Scotland, Berkshire-based woman Bal Gill visited one of the capital city’s oldest tourist attractions: the Camera Obscura & World of Illusions. Though the 41-year-old intended to spend the day exploring the museum’s mind-bending exhibits, she ended up received a life-changing diagnosis instead.
“I visited with my family in May 2019 during the school holidays,” Gill explained. “We had been to Edinburgh Castle and on the way down we saw the museum. While making our way through the floors we got to the thermal imaging camera room.” After snapping some silly psychedelic photographs with her family, Gill noticed that there was a strange-looking splotch on her left breast.
In May of this year, Bal visited us at Camera Obscura on a family trip to Edinburgh. Little did she know that her simple visit and a photograph would not only change her life but in fact, save her life. Read more about Bal’s incredible story here: https://t.co/vffxFAKCyJ pic.twitter.com/V0GXsryKEP
— Camera Obscura (@camobscura) October 22, 2019
While she notes that she found this marking odd, she packed away the photograph and continued her visit to the museum. Once back home, however, she decided to research the phenomenon, which she found out could be a marker for breast cancer—a frightening reality that was soon confirmed by her doctor.
According to the museum, thermal imaging—which is non-invasive and requires no radiation—is able to detect cancer through heat. Specifically, it calculates the temperature of the skin, which warms up when a tumor is involved. Though the museum mentions that thermography is a tool used by breast cancer specialists, the institution did not consider the life-saving power of its popular exhibit until Bal bravely shared her experience.
“We did not realize that our Thermal Camera had the potential to detect life-changing symptoms in this way,” Camera Obscura & World of Illusions shared. “We were really moved when Bal contacted us to share her story as breast cancer is very close to home for me and a number of our team. It’s amazing that Bal noticed the difference in the image and crucially acted on it promptly.”
Bal was so prompt, in fact, that her diagnosis was made in the “very early” stages, giving her all the more reason to be grateful for the seemingly inconsequential exhibit. “Without that camera,” she explained, “I would never have known. 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.”