Breast cancer survivor humiliated over TSA pat down at KCI - KCTV5

Breast cancer survivor humiliated over TSA pat down at KCI

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A breast cancer survivor is calling out airport security for what she is calling a "humiliating pat down."

What Marcia Deitrick described happening at Kansas City International Airport wasn't straight up groping or outright harassment, but a form of humiliation. 

Deitrick said it added insult to the injury endured by those who have had life-saving surgeries.

The cancer survivor had bilateral mastectomies in 2007, and though she is no longer shy about her experience, she is protective of her body.

"I do not want somebody touching me," Deitrick said.

Deitrick said she has always opted for the body scanner to avoid a pat down, but this time, that machine was not enough.

Deitrick said the TSA agent asked if she was wearing something on her chest.  She soon realized it was her scars the TSA screener took issue with.

The employee radioed in "an anomaly," something outside the norm, and told Deitrick she need to check her manually.

"Then she ran the backs of her hands around my breasts in full view of everybody," Deitrick said.  "She was nice, she was polite. But she didn't ask me if I wanted a private screening."

TSA rules specify "you may request the pat down take place in a private screening area," but it puts the onus on the traveler to ask.

"I actually stood there thinking these people probably think I'm doing something wrong, that either there's something wrong with my body or I've done something wrong," Deitrick said.

It is a message Deitrick said could be devastating to women who have not yet come to terms with all they have endured.  And a search of survivor support groups revealed other survivors with similar experiences.

"I don't think that the TSA agents across the country are being uniformly and properly trained to be able to know what to look at and what to look for and what to expect when a breast cancer survivor comes through a body scanner," she said.

As a breast cancer survivor, Deitrick's profile may not fit the majority, but as one of 2.9 million in the United States, she is also far from rare.

"I'm not an anomaly. I'm the reality of breast cancer just like those other 2.9 million women are, and I think that we deserve better when we go through airport screening. We deserve to have TSA screeners who know what they're looking at," she said.

TSA release the following statement:

"TSA security officers are trained to work with each traveler to ensure a respectful screening process. Despite advances in technology, a physical pat down is still necessary in some cases to resolve an alarm at the walk through metal detector or an anomaly detected by advanced imaging technology. TSA officers are trained to perform pat downs in a dignified manner and, at any point, passengers can request a private screening with a witness present. We are sensitive to passengers concerns about their screening experience and take every passenger's complaint seriously. When TSA learns of a pat down complaint, we will look into it to determine if proper procedures were followed and will take appropriate action, if warranted. We work to make our screening procedures as minimally invasive as possible while still providing the level of security that the American people want and deserve."

Deitrick said the TSA representatives have been apologetic and professional about her complaint.

However, whether training will change is something they have not yet addressed.

More information - Tips: What to Expect If You Are a Breast Cancer Survivor

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