Bal Gill was visiting the Camera Obscura & World of Illusions with her family in May when she noticed a red heat patch radiating from her left breast.
“While making our way through the floors we got to the thermal imaging camera room,” the 41-year-old from Slough in Berkshire, said. “As all families do, we entered and started to wave our arms and look at the images created. While doing this, I noticed a [red] heat patch coming from my left breast.”
Initially she thought it was odd, but then she noticed she was the only person with a heat patch.
“Having looked at everyone else they didn’t have the same,” she said. “I took a picture and we carried on and enjoyed the rest of the museum“.
Ms Gill searched thermal images online and found the cameras could be used by oncologists to help diagnose cancers.
“I saw a lot of articles about breast cancer and thermal imaging cameras,” she said.
She later contacted her doctor and was subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer.
“It turns out I do have breast cancer, thankfully really early stages,” she said, in a letter of thanks to the tourist attraction. I have now had two surgeries and have one to go to prevent it from spreading."
She added: "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.”
Andrew Johnson, the tourist site’s general manager, said staff had been unaware the cameras could prove so vital.
“We did not realise that our thermal camera had the potential to detect life-changing symptoms in this way,” he said. “We were really moved when Bal contacted us to share her story.”
Cancer Research estimates that there were approximately 55,213 new cases of invasive breast cancer in the UK from 2014-2016.
Additional reporting by agencies
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