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Visitor discovers breast cancer from tourist centre camera

Bal Gill learned about her condition after taking a photo on a thermal imaging camera.

Thermal: Life-changing image
Thermal: Life-changing image

By Graeme Murray

A tourist who visited to an Edinburgh visitor attraction discovered she had breast cancer through its thermal camera.

Bal Gill and her family went to Camera Obscura & World of Illusions in May and photograph revealed a red heat patch on her left breast.

The thermal camera, which was installed on the third floor in 2009, lets visitors see a visual of all their body hot spots.

But when Ms Gill took a photo, unlike everyone else, she noticed a red heat patch coming from her breast.

She investigated further after returning home and discovered thermal imaging cameras are often used by oncologists.

Ms Gill, 41, from Sough, Berkshire, made an appointment with her doctor and was given the life-changing news she had breast cancer.

She has since contacted the Royal Mile attraction to let them know about her experience.

Ms Gill said: "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.

"As all families do, we entered and started to wave our arms and look at the images created. While doing this I noticed a heat patch (red in colour) 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."

'I made an appointment with the doctor and as it turns out I do have breast cancer, thankfully really early stages'
Bal Gill

After she returned home she was looking through her photos and spotted the image of the scan.

She said: "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.

"I made an appointment with the doctor and as it turns out I do have breast cancer, thankfully really early stages. I have now had two surgeries and have one to go to prevent it from spreading.

"I just wanted to say thank you: without that camera 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."

The tower, at the visitor attraction has six floors of interactive exhibitions.

The top floor where the Camera Obscura is projects a "virtual" tour of the city for visitors, and also on the rooftop terrace with its views of Edinburgh and telescopes.

The floors beneath host the World of Illusions offer interactive exhibits demonstrating aspects of optical illusions, light, colour.

Andrew Johnson, general manager of Camera Obscura & World of Illusions said: "We did not realise that our Thermal Camera had the potential to detect life-changing symptoms in this way.

"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. We wish her all the best with her recovery and hope to meet her and her family in the future."

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