While I have not flown since acquiring my breast prostheses two years ago, I have traveled by cruise ship and gone through a similar security system as to what is used in airports. Fortunately, I was not stopped or questioned or required to go through a more extensive body search procedure. However, other women have.
Last year, a flight attendant’s experience going through airport security made national news as she was put through an extensive search even after she explained that she was wearing a breast prosthesis.
I came across the following article about a breast prosthesis card that might be of help for those of us who wear breast prostheses and use transportation that requires passing through a security system.
Breast Prosthesis Card Makes Travel Easier
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Breast cancer survivors who have breast prostheses can now travel through airport security with more discretion by using a new identification card developed at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James). The card provides a non-verbal way to inform Transportation Security Administration agents about prostheses.
The inspiration for the card came from Electra Paskett, associate director for Population Sciences at OSUCCC-James, a researcher who is a long-time breast cancer survivor.
“While traveling, I have endured several inconsistent and insensitive airport security checks where I felt my privacy and my dignity were violated. Frankly, it made me angry. As breast cancer survivors, we have fought our own battles, we get a tremendous outpouring of support, and we want to cooperate with security guidelines. We are simply asking to be treated with some compassion,” says Paskett.
The card, available through Hope’s Boutique in the JamesCare Comprehensive Breast Center, is offered to new and existing patients who travel. Vera Garofalo, manager of Hope’s Boutique, says many women have already expressed their appreciation for the card.
“Women have told me how uncomfortable traveling can be when they are questioned in public about their very private issues,” says Garofalo.
Paskett and Garofalo designed the breast prosthesis identification card similar to other medical device identification cards for pacemakers or implants. The card provides space for the owner’s contact information as well as information about the prosthesis and the provider.
“We worked with the TSA to develop a good solution for a sensitive issue,” says Paskett. “I have been piloting the card when I travel and I have received positive feedback from TSA agents across the country.”
Women are instructed to have the breast prostheses card in hand as they walk through airport security body scanners. If selected for additional screening, they can then hand the card to the TSA agent, without having to verbally explain their situation.
“This card is not intended to excuse anyone from those security screenings. It simply allows women and agents to communicate more discretely,” says Paskett.
The Transportation Security Administration explains their process for screening a breast cancer survivor on its website.
For more information about obtaining a breast prosthesis identification card, contact Hope’s Boutique, 614-293-9393
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