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23rd Oct 2019

Tourist discovered own breast cancer while viewing interactive heat cam exhibition

 “Without that camera, I would never have known.”

A tourist who discovered her own breast cancer while viewing an interactive heat cam exhibition has called the experience “life-changing.”

41-year-old Bal was visiting the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions exhibition in Edinburgh earlier this year when a photo she took on a heat cam showed that her left breast was glowing red.

Bal later looked up why this could be and discovered that some oncologists use heat cams for early detection of breast cancer.

She made an appointment and was diagnosed soon after.

“As all families do, we entered and started to wave our arms and look at the images created,” said Bal.

“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.”

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We always expect that life-changing moments are going to be loud or climactic. That we would notice the shift but more often than not, that isn't the case. It's the small moments. 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. The Thermal Camera is one of our most popular exhibits that lets visitors see a visual of all their body hot spots. When Bal stepped into our Thermal Camera and took a family picture, she noticed something strange, a red heat patch coming from her left breast. On returning home, Bal investigated further and discovered that thermal imaging cameras are often used as a tool by oncologists. Bal made an appointment with her doctor and was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully, it was detected early enough, and Bal is now receiving treatment. Read more about Bal's incredible story over on our website.

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After her diagnosis, Bal had two surgeries – and one upcoming – to prevent the cancer from spreading.

“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.”

General manager of the exhibition, Andrew Johnson, said they “did not realise” that the heat cam could detect breast cancer in its early stages.

“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,” 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.”