Woman learns she has cancer from photo at tourist attraction: 'I would never have known'

A British tourist was stunned to learn she had breast cancer after a photo opportunity at a museum picked up on the presence of a tumor.

Bal Gill, a 41-year-old mother from Berkshire, England, visited Camera Obscura & World of Illusions in Edinburgh, Scotland, during a family vacation in May 2019 and later wrote to the museum to share how one of its attractions may have saved her life.

"I visited with my family in May 2019 during the school holidays," Gill explained, the museum revealed in a press release. "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."

According to the museum, the thermal camera offers guests "the chance to see just how hot, or cold you are" — and for Gill, the attraction revealed a surprising hot spot on her chest.

"As all families do, we entered and started to wave our arms and look at the images created," she said. "While doing this I 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 Gill and her family returned home to England, she came across the image again in her camera roll and decided to do some digging on thermal imaging and the possible significance of the hot spot.

She discovered that thermography, also called thermal imaging, is a tool used by specialists that utilizes a noninvasive camera to measure the temperature of the skin on the breast's surface.

RELATED: What is thermography? Here's what experts say about cancer detection method at center of viral story

Since cancer cells are growing and multiplying at a rapid rate, blood flow and metabolism may be higher in cancerous tumors than in non-affected areas of the body, the theory behind thermography presents. As blood flow and metabolism increase, skin temperature goes up, which is how thermal cameras may be able to detect cancer's presence.

"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," Gill recalled. "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."

Andrew Johnson, the general manager of Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, said he was moved to learn of Gill's story, "as breast cancer is very close to home for me and a number of our team."

"We did not realize that our thermal camera had the potential to detect life-changing symptoms in this way," he 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."

Gill ultimately expressed gratitude toward the museum for the lucky incident that led her to seek early treatment.

"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."

Gill's story comes amid Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual October campaign meant to increase awareness of the disease and highlight the importance of education and research.

In the United States, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

In 2019, the nonprofit estimates that 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S., as well as 62,930 new cases of noninvasive breast cancer. It also estimates that 41,760 women will die from breast cancer in the U.S. during this year alone.

Thankfully, the group says, death rates from breast cancer have been on the decline globally since about 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness and continually improving treatment options.

RELATED: Products that give back to breast cancer research: 

30 PHOTOS
Products that give back for breast cancer research
See Gallery
Products that give back for breast cancer research

Gorjana Power Gemstone Bracelet for Compassion, $38

Gorjana will be donating 50 percent of proceeds from the Power Gemstone Bracelet to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

BUY IT

Limited Edition Rothy's, $145

In addition to donating $50,000 to BCRF, Rothy's is spreading the love this October by gifting a select limited edition pink shoes to survivors and supporters with the purchase of eligible shoes. 

"At Rothy's, we're just as dedicated to sustainability as we are to supporting women. We're thrilled to be an official partner with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which works tirelessly to support lifesaving research. Last year we asked our customers to tell us about women in their life who have been impacted by breast cancer, and we were incredibly moved by the responses we received. We're looking forward to reading more of those special words this year." - Rothy's VP of Marketing, Elie Donahue

BUY IT

Lilly Pulitzer Pinking Positive Tote, $124

As a direct contribution in support of this Print with Purpose collection, the BCRF will receive a $22,000 donation from Lilly Pulitzer.

BUY IT

Jack Rogers Georgica Sandal, $128

Jack Rogers will be donating 10% of proceeds from the Georgica sandal in blush and magenta to the Breast Cancer Association throughout October. 

BUY IT

AERIN Rose Lip Conditioner & Amber Musk Rollerball Set, $50

100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

BUY IT

Kendra Scott Metastatic Breast Cancer Necklace Charm Set In Rose Gold, $110

50 percent of the proceeds from every purchase of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Charm Necklace Set will support our Legacy Retreat through Inheritance of Hope for families with a parent battling metastatic breast cancer.

BUY IT

Vineyard Vines 2019 Breast Cancer Awareness Long-Sleeve Pocket T-Shirt, $48

20 percent of all net proceeds will be donated to Bright Pink. 

BUY IT

Bobbi Brown 2-Pc. Proud To Be Pink Lip Color Set, $45

Bobbi Brown Cosmetics will donate $24.00 from the purchase of each Proud to Be Pink Lip Color Duo to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF) from 9/9/19 to 6/30/20.

BUY IT

Origins 2-Pc. Breast Cancer Awareness Limited Edition Blooming Bold Lipstick Set, $20

In support of The Estee Lauder Companies' Breast Cancer Campaign, Origins will donate 100 percent of the purchase price of this Limited Edition Blooming Bold Lipstick Set.

BUY IT

True Religion Breast Cancer Awareness Tie Dye Sweatshirt, $99

15 percent of proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

BUY IT

Not Today, Cancer set, $52

10 percent of profits from sales of this set support the Young Survival Coalition (YSC), who envisions “A world where no young adult faces breast cancer alone." 

BUY IT

Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Breast Cancer Awareness Limited Edition Eau de Parfum, $120

Donna Karan Cosmetics will donate 20 percent of the SRP from the sale of this product to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

BUY IT

David Yurman Cable Classics Bracelet with Morganite and 18K Rose Gold, $495

David Yurman is partnering with BCRF this October, launching an exclusive bracelet with 20% of proceeds going towards the non-profit.

BUY IT

M. Gemi x Fuck Cancer Palestra, $228

15 percent of proceeds from the shoes, which are sold out now but are available for pre-order, will be donated to the organization Fuck Cancer. 100 percent of proceeds from the laces will also be donated.

BUY IT

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair with Pink Ribbon Bracelet, $100

With each purchase of this product, Estée Lauder will donate 20 percent of the suggested retail price to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

BUY IT

Pura Vida Breast Cancer Awareness Bracelet, $32

10 percent of net sales will be donated to Boarding for Breast Cancer, a nonprofit that advocates for early detection and empowers young people to live a healthier lifestyle.

BUY IT

Unode50 Zen Think Pink Bracelet, $140

20 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this bracelet will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Group (GEICAM) to support its efforts in studying breast cancer.

BUY IT

La Mer The Breast Cancer Campaign Cleansing Micellar Water, $55

La Mer will donate 30 percent from the purchase price of this limited edition, travel-size Cleansing Micellar Water with a maximum donation of $53,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

BUY IT

Aerie LIMITED-EDITION MOVE SPORTS BRA, $20.97 (orig. $34.95)

100% of US sales benefit Bright Pink®, a non-profit dedicated to prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancers in young women.

BUY IT
Saucony Women's With Love Kinvara 10, $120

From September 9th – October 31st 20% of the proceeds directly benefit the Dr. Susan Love Foundation and their research.

BUY IT

Brahmin SYDNEY BCA, $375

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Brahmin brought back a favorite pink collection with a portion of proceeds benefitting the National Breast Cancer Foundation during the month of October.

BUY IT

Ideology Breast Cancer Logo Leggings, $26.50

Now through October 31, 2019, Macy's will donate 20% of the sale price from this Ideology item to BCRF.

BUY IT

ghd gold® ink on pink styler, $199 

$10 from every sale from the ink on pink collection goes to Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

BUY IT

686 WOMEN'S GLCR GORE-TEX MOONLIGHT INSULATED JACKET, $359.95

Activewear brand 686 is on a mission to board for breast cancer (literally!) with their Moonlight Jacket and will donate $18 from every jacket sold to BOARDING FOR BREAST CANCER (B4BC) a nonprofit foundation providing breast cancer education, prevention, and survivor support programs for young people. 

BUY IT

Native Peony & Jasmine Tea Deodorant, $10.00

On October 5th & October 6th, Native will donate $1 per bar of deodorant sold to Fuck Cancer’s Personal Ink (P.ink) a program, dedicated to empowering women to reclaim their bodies after mastectomies.

BUY IT

Lane Bryant LIVI Active Legging, $49.95

10 percent of each purchase goes to lifesaving research at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation! 

BUY IT

Venus ET Fleur Breast Cancer Awareness Collection, $500

During the month of October, customers can select any large round or large square pink suede box and pair with any pink flower and the brand will donate 20% of proceeds from to City of Hope, a world leader in the research and treatment of cancer.

BUY IT

Olay Limited Edition Regenerist Whip, $58.99

"We are donating 100 percent of US proceeds from this Regenerist Whip Pink Ribbon Face Moisturizer + Refill to benefit Bright Pink and their life-saving mission focused on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer."

BUY IT

Torrid BREAST CANCER AWARENESS - THE LIZ PINK 360° BACK SMOOTHING™ LIGHTLY LINED EVERYDAY WIRE-FREE BRA, $44.90

20 percent of net proceeds from this purchase will help fight Breast Cancer.

BUY IT

Riley Versa bags, $50-$625

30 percent of all Riley Versa site-wide purchases (excluding the Sweat Pouch) will be donated to The Pink Agenda throughout the month of October.

BUY IT
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story