Lifestyle & Human Interest

Woman's Trip to Tourist Spot Leads to Discovery of Early-Stage Breast Cancer


Enjoying a vacation with family and friends can certainly be good for the soul as we put life’s responsibilities on pause and spend time playing and relaxing.

For 41-year-old Bal Gill, from Berkshire, England, a vacation to Scotland proved to be more than rejuvenating; it was potentially life-saving.

Gill and her family had just finished visiting Edinburgh Castle when they noticed a quirky museum that caught their eyes: the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions.

Curious, the family purchased tickets and went inside the museum, known for eye-popping and puzzling optical illusions.

But during the visit, Gill noticed something puzzling about her upper body, a clue from a thermal heat camera that suggested something was amiss.

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“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,” Gill told BBC News.

“While doing this I noticed a heat patch coming from my left breast,” Gill said. “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.”

When Gill returned home, she remembered the heat patch while looking through photos of the trip. She did a bit of online investigating and found information that suggested it was possible the hot spot on her breast could indicate cancerous cells.

After visiting her doctor, Gill was formally diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.

“I have now had two surgeries and have one to go to prevent it from spreading,” Gill wrote in a letter to the popular tourist attraction.

She told her story to the staff at Camera Obscura, thanking them for the exhibit that potentially saved her life.

“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,” Gill said.

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Andrew Johnson, general manager of Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, told the BBC that many team members were touched by Gill’s story.

“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,” Johnson said. “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,” Johnson said.

While the thermal camera proved effective for giving Gill a clue to her own health, the FDA does not recommend thermography as a standalone way to detect breast cancer.

“Thermography is not a substitute for regular mammograms and should not be used in place of mammography for breast cancer screening or diagnosis,” the FDA wrote in February 2019 guidelines.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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Lifestyle & Human Interest