A breast cancer survivor this month launched a new breast cancer survivor ID card that she hopes will help survivors using prostheses to travel through airport security with more discretion. The card, developed at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC), provides a discrete way for people to inform Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents about their prostheses.
Breast cancer survivor Electra Paskett, associate director for Population Sciences at OSUCCC, came up with the idea after enduring “several inconsistent and insensitive airport security checks.” After TSA began using body scanners, Paskett said she was pulled aside for pat-downs--not every time, but enough that she felt like her privacy and 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,” Paskett said in a statement.
Paskett consulted with TSA when designing the card, but TSA didn’t work directly with the university on its development.
The laminated, drivers’ license-sized card displays information including a patient's name and address, the name of the provider of the prosthetic, and when the device was purchased. The cards are carried at Hope’s Boutique in the JamesCare Comprehensive Breast Center, a specialty store for cancer survivors located in Columbus, Ohio, but they are available internationally. Paskett said they’ve had orders from as far as Miami and Canada. Hope’s Boutique provides the cards for free.
“TSA works with numerous groups, including breast cancer organizations, to continuously refine and enhance our procedures to improve the passenger experience while also ensuring the safety of the traveling public,” a TSA official said.
In TSA’s existing program for screening people traveling with medical equipment, travelers aren’t required to remove prosthetic devices, casts, or support braces, but officers do have to see and touch the device.
“TSA understands that passengers who are breast cancer survivors may have concerns about the screening process. When a breast cancer survivor, including survivors who have prostheses, approaches an airport checkpoint, that individual has the option of undergoing screening by use of advanced imaging technology or a pat-down,” said TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein.