When I was returning from the Tampa Project Lead breast cancer advocacy meeting a couple of months ago, I was chosen for the Star Trek transporter-like security thing. You know the glass booth, arms outstretched etc.
After I exited the machine, a male TSA employee told me to wait. It was humiliating as other passengers eyed me, clearly wondering why I had been detained. Plus, I was feeling separation anxiety, as my bag and laptop were knocking around at the end of the conveyor belt.
I heard the TSA guy call for a female screener. There was a few minutes delay which felt much longer. “I have breast cancer!” I said in the hysterical tone someone else might have used to declare “Soylent Green is people!”
When the woman TSA employee arrived, the guy said something about “left chest.” Now I was just mad. “I had a mastectomy!” I said in what many primary school teachers would call an Outside Voice. “I have Stage IV breast cancer!”
The woman smiled sympathetically and gave me a very cursory pat down. The man looked embarrassed.
I was practically shaking with anger as I collected my belongings and put my shoes back on. Who knows, it may have had nothing to do with my missing breast, but I did wonder.
All liquids, gels and foobs must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag…
A Google search revealed women with prostheses have been stopped.
According to this November 2011 article from MSNBC:
Musa Mayer has worn a breast prosthesis for 21 years since her mastectomy and is used to the alarms it sets off at airport security. But nothing prepared her for the “invasive and embarrassing” experience of being patted down, poked and examined recently while passing through airport security at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.
“I asked the supervisor if she realized that there are 3 million women who have had breast cancer in the U.S., many of whom wear breast prostheses. Will each of us now have to undergo this humiliating, time-consuming routine every time we pass through one of these new body scanners?” she said in an e-mail to msnbc.com.
How about you?
I have flown several times since the Tampa TSA incident and I haven’t been subject to extra screening. (I can’t recall if the airports in question just have the “regular” magnetometers or the high-end scanners.) But how about you? Have you been stopped? What did you do?