Getting Through TSA as a Cancer Survivor

As many of you know, recently hubby and I escaped the cold February temps and headed south for a week. We really needed to get away for a lot of reasons. Last year we drove to the same destination. This year we decided to travel by air thanks to “flying stand-by perks” we received via son number one who recently started working part-time at an airport.

“When you fly stand-by, you must be very flexible,” son number one instructed us right off the bat.

This really means direct flights are rare, you must be patient, you must be prepared to get kicked off a flight even after you’ve sat down in your seat and you must remember to be extra polite to the ticketing agents at all times. You get the idea.

Stand-by is just that, stand-by. You stand by hoping and waiting for a seat. We were hoping and waiting for two.

But this post isn’t about flying stand-by; it’s about going through TSA (Transportation Security Administration) as a cancer survivor.

While traveling I started wondering if I had some “look” to me that said suspicious, watch this one. Also, there seemed to be a lot of inconsistencies at different airports. I guess there must be a lot left up to the individual judgment of TSA workers.

Is this OK?

Maybe, maybe not.

Here are a few examples of my recent experiences going through TSA. Perhaps sharing them will be helpful to someone.

At one airport, I was told I absolutely must remove my hoodie sweatshirt I was wearing, but thankfully not before they made sure I was wearing something underneath. I was. At the other airports, no need, although I did remove it anyway just to simplify things, or so I thought.

When I went through the line at the next stop with hoodie removed (thinking I was saving time), once again, I was pulled aside and told this time I needed a chest pat down. Seriously?

Why? I have no idea.

No problem. I’m pretty used to all kinds of chest pat downs at this point.

Moving on to the head gear… two times I was told I simply must remove my baseball cap. Two times I was told no need. On one occasion when I was required to remove it, I must have looked worn down because the female TSA worker looked at me sympathetically and asked, “Do you think you feel up to removing your cap for me?”

I guess I must have looked more haggard than I thought!

“Yes,” I answered and handed it over, though reluctantly I must admit, as I am still quite self-conscious about going capless in public.

These were my “clothing experiences.”

But wait, there’s more.

Before going through one of the scanners, I realized I might have trouble raising both arms up in the air and over my head as high as the diagram inside the scanner indicated I must, but I managed after telling the guy “I’m not sure if I can do this.”

“Would you rather go into a different room and have a pat down?” the guy asked.

“Uh, no thanks,” I answered as I managed to get both arms raised high enough I guess, since he let me through.

At the final airport I attempted to walk through the scanner area again, hoodie and cap removed, thinking I’ve really got this process down now.

But wait!

The TSA agent took one look at me, noticed my lymphedema sleeve and immediately pulled me aside once again.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“A lymphedema sleeve,” I answered.

“What’s it for?”

“I need to wear it for medical reasons,” I explained.

Then she scurried off to seek another opinion from a fellow worker. Had she never seen a lymphedema sleeve before? This was not a small airport I might add.

“She’s wearing a bandage,” she told her fellow worker while covering her mouth so I wouldn’t hear, but of course I heard and so did everyone around me.

“No, it’s a lymphedema sleeve,” I explained once again.

“Can I touch it?” she asked next.

“Yes,” I responded wondering what would happen if I said no.

After she gingerly touched my sleeve (I must admit I felt like screaming out, pretending I was in pain from her touch), I was pulled aside once more to get my palms “read.”

I imagine this was because who knows what I could have had up my sleeve?

Pun intended.

The thing is though, they fit so darn tight there isn’t room for much of anything up a lymphedema sleeve.

Happily, on one connecting flight, we didn’t need to go through TSA at all due to the location of the gates. Loved that.

And of course, hubby went through each and every time with no questions asked.

Granted, I haven’t flown in a while and this was my first time flying wearing my sleeve.

But still, it seems like there should be more consistency in what’s allowed and what isn’t. It seems like TSA workers should be better trained to recognize such things as lymphedema sleeves. It seems as if a little more sensitivity should be part of their job training.

I couldn’t help but wonder how I would have felt one year ago traveling bald and being told I must remove my cap.

I realize this is all very trivial and my inconveniences were very minor. I understand about the necessity for safety and taking every precaution necessary.

But still…

Flying can be stressful these days for anyone.

Flying stand-by can be really stressful.

Flying stand-by as a cancer survivor can be really really stressful.

Maybe next year we’ll drive again.

Have you ever flown stand-by?

Do you have a TSA experience (good or bad) to share?

How do you feel about body scanners?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

69 comments


  • Beth L. Gainer

    March 19, 2012

    What a nightmare!

    You hit on another hot button for me, and that is those body scanners. I feel it is such an intrusion and I am so against them. Maybe if I didn’t have the reconstructive surgery or never had breast cancer, they wouldn’t bother me, but I think I could mouth off to the TSA officials, which would get me in trouble.

    You handled yourself really well and reminded us that cancer is always with us, even if we are flying miles away.

    • Nancy

      March 20, 2012

      Beth, Your position on the scanners is pretty clear I guess! I don’t mind going through them all that much, but I do feel my privacy is invaded when I’m still subjected to a chest pat-down. And I don’t think a lymphedema sleeve should be such a problem. Perhaps a bit more training and bit more consistency is called for. You’re so right, cancer always “travels” with us. That should have been my post title! Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Casey B

    March 19, 2012

    My goodness, Nancy.

    As if you haven’t already had enough to contend with. Sorry to hear you had to go through that as well. It ought to be blatantly obvious to the staff that there’s no way anybody could sneak anything under a lymphedema sleeve!

    Wishing you all the best,

    Casey

    • Nancy

      March 20, 2012

      Casey, Thanks so much for your kind words. It was a bit stressful, but we made it to our destination and back home again!

  • Nancy!!!!

    Did you see this post I put up in November?

    http://chemo-brain.blogspot.com/2011/11/tsa-and-gummy-bears.html

    This is too funny. Not ha ha funny, but coincidentally funny.

    Hope you get a giggle….. You aren’t alone… that is FOR sure!

    xoxoxo

    • Nancy

      March 20, 2012

      Ann Marie, Well, I can’t remember if I saw that post! No surprise there, right? I will check it out soon. I’m sure I’ll get a giggle or two when I do. Sometimes we just have to laugh don’t we? Thanks so much for stopping by.

  • Brandie

    March 20, 2012

    I just flew. I was worried about setting things off and getting a pat-down and having to remove my foob. I didn’t. And I was relieved.
    I also didn’t put my lymphedema sleeve on until after security … maybe I will do that again if I fly.
    But yes, lots of inconsistencies from stories I hear and TSA is obviously not trained to even slightly deal with medical issues at all. :(

    • Nancy

      March 20, 2012

      Brandie, Glad your travel experience was a good one. I was told to put my sleeve on early and leave it on, even for a while after getting to my destination. Plus, they are kind of hard to put on I think, so I wouldn’t really want to do it after TSA, but I suppose that might be something to consider. Flying stand-by added to that issue a bit for sure. I wonder what kind of “medical awareness training” TSA workers do get?? It’s pretty safe to say, not enough. Thanks for your comments.

  • Laura

    March 20, 2012

    Oh my!
    I am flying next week and I am planning to try to attempt to take my medication (liquid) onboard and through security with me (with a doctors note of course) as I need to drink it throughout the day and I am on a 7 hour flight. It is going to be interesting and if/when they make me pour it out I am most likely going to be pissed off….make a scene….ask them if they want me to be sick due to lack of medication…and probably end up in the security office for it….oh I am planning on leaving extra early just in case this does happen. I have heard a lot of bad things about those scanners so this time I think I am going to opt for the “pat down” instead.

    I am so sorry you had to deal with all of this crap! You are right, TSA needs to be better educated about medical issues, prosthetics and other medical devices or aids or sleeves. I have often wondered what they think about the port in my chest when they see it in the x-ray machine thingy.

    Never a dull moment huh?

    • Nancy

      March 20, 2012

      Laura, I think you’ll be fine taking your liquid medication through security if you have that doctor’s note, at least I sure hope so! Leaving a bit early sounds like a good idea. More/better training is undoubtedly a good idea for TSA workers, but… Good luck with your travels! Keep me posted if you can. And yes, never a dull moment is right…Thanks for commenting, Laura.

  • Julie Goodale

    March 20, 2012

    A few years ago I had an early morning flight out of somewhere in Wyoming or Montana. I was wearing my sleeve & glove. Young male TSA tells me I can’t wear it. I insist it is a medical garment. He then tells me I can wear it, but he has to cut a sample out of it. I say no – loudly. I tell him again that this is a medical garment & he will not touch it! I explain what it is for & that I am a cancer survivor. I insist – every sentence getting louder – that he has absolutely no right to destroy my medical device. I threaten to strip down to prove that I am a breast cancer survivor. I make as much of a fuss as I can – all the while holding up all the other passengers (small airport). If TSA is going to ruin my sleeve & glove, I want everyone in that airport to be a witness. He won’t back down & neither will I. Finally, an older woman – his superior – comes over to see what the problem is. She takes one look at my arm, pushes him against a wall telling him he is so far out of line, & apologizes to me. As I walked away, she was continued yelling at him.

    Yup, it’s enough to make you want to drive!!

    • Nancy

      March 20, 2012

      Julie, That is an incredible story! Why on earth would he need to cut a sample from your sleeve? To test it or what? It sounds like there was a bit of a power struggle going on there. Good for you for holding your ground! I’m glad he got yelled at. And yes, driving just might be the best way to go whenever possible…Thanks for sharing about one of your travel experiences.

  • Mary

    March 20, 2012

    My husband works for an airline and I fly stand-by all the time. It’s a great perk but can quickly turn into a nightmare if there’s bad weather or a bunch of cancellations. I flew back in November, and went through security in Chicago. Didn’t have too much trouble since I don’t wear a sleeve, but I did have to take off my hat, and I was bald at the time. I leveled a penetrating gaze at the security screener, as in, “You better not mess with me, I’ve been through the wringer this year.” They let me go through the regular beeper thing, because I don’t want any more x-rays than I need (back-scatter machine). Not sure if that will work now as my hair is back! But we’ll see. I’m planning to fly in April.

    • Nancy

      March 20, 2012

      Mary, Yes, flying stand-by is a nice perk when things go smoothly! We encountered a few problems, but… Was it hard removing your hat when you were bald? That would have been highly stressful for me. I know what you mean about not wanting more x-rays. Good luck on your trip next month; I hope all goes well. Let me know! Thanks for adding to this discussion.

  • WhiteStone

    March 20, 2012

    I’ve never flown standby. But I did get a pat-down last October when I just happened to have a sample packet of Miralax in my hip pocket. A foil packet. Sounded the alarm three times. Old white-haired granny and her short chemo hair and her packet of Miralax. Dangerous sorta person, doncha think?

    • Nancy

      March 20, 2012

      WhiteStone, It’s so good to hear from you! Yes, it kind of makes one wonder doesn’t it? But then danger can “show its face” in mysterious ways I guess. Thanks for sharing.

  • Oh good lord…maybe I’ll take an ocean liner the next time I go to Europe. And I really like trains.

    • Nancy

      March 20, 2012

      Kathi, Yes, a train might be a good way to go if not venturing overseas. Traveling has become more complicated for many reasons hasn’t it? Maybe that’s why I’m such a home-body. Thanks for the comment.

  • Alli

    March 20, 2012

    I will be flying later this summer. Now my only issue will be my Port-A Cath I still have it in my chest never bothered to have it removed because for various things it’s easier to use and my veins are shot.
    Going through a scanner I wonder what the technician will do about the port being number 1 visible through my skin and 2 he might think it’s some secret device lol or explosive….scarey thought!!

    Best thing I suppose is to have a detailed letter from your Oncologist explaining to people that are unaware just what these devices we HAVE to use are for….Kind of silly I know but I just don’t have the patience to deal with those that should be better informed. My feeling is, If you have this job learn what kinds of medical equipment people have to use and don’t assume we are terrorists..

    Love Alli…….xx

    • Nancy

      March 20, 2012

      Alli, Surely security agents are familiar with port-a-caths! If not, they should be. A note from your doctor sounds like a very good idea. Good luck traveling. You’ll have to report back! Thanks for commenting.

  • yvonne

    March 20, 2012

    I am so sorry Nancy. Your post reminded me of growing up in Northern Ireland in the 70sa and 80s … this increased airport security here is not unlike what we had to go through in stores, airports, at the entrances and exits to cities and towns. I remember, one night, a soldier had me empty out my entire car, in the snow. I was so obviously a student with all my books and papers from college, a violin – I was going home for Christmas, but I must have looked suspicious! Just a little more training would surely help people understand the kinds of essential medical supplies/equipment people need??
    I never expected to encounter the same kinds of security measures in America. Ironic, huh?

    • Nancy

      March 20, 2012

      Yvonne, The experience you shared sounds awful. It does make one wonder why they zeroed in on you doesn’t it? It’s really sad we must be so security conscious now days. I understand the need for it, but I do think a bit more training might be called for. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • KOB

    March 20, 2012

    http://ihatebreastcancer.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other/

    I was stopped twice in the high end, hands above your head scanner, presumably because one side no longer “matches” the other. I have never had any issue in the regular scanner.

    I have taken to saying “I have breast cancer, I don’t have a left breast” before I enter the machine. It makes me feel like I have some control at least.

    • Nancy

      March 20, 2012

      Katherine, Good for you for taking control like that before you enter the machine. I’m sure that comment catches them off guard a bit and quiets them down, but maybe not?? Thanks for sharing.

  • Helen Burmaster

    March 20, 2012

    When I read your post about your experiences with the TSA, it reminded me of many I had. One of the more dunique experiences was when we were traveling to my nieces wedding. I had just gotten a mastectomy form, did not yet have my lymphedema sleeve and glove and was wearing fhe layers of bandages. To top it off, of course, I had lost my hair. Knowing there were going to be many pictures, and we were going straight to the rehearsal dinner, I had a poorly fitting wig on. I must have looked very threatening, so the TSA pulled me to the side for the more intrusive “inspection”.
    There were no women on duty, and I would not consent to a male inspection, so I had to wait for the “only” woman to return from breakfast before they would permit me to pass. Twenty minutes later, I had enough. I spoke loudly, “imagine your mother with breast cancer being treated poorly by the TSA.”
    Unbeknownst to me, a reporter and our congressman were going though the scanners and heard me talk. They came over and said, don’t worry, we’ll take care of this for you. A few minutes later, I was on my way to the gate. It took politics and the media to understand in two minutes, what TSA training failed to do in twenty.
    Thanks for sharing Nancy!

    • Nancy

      March 21, 2012

      Helen, Thanks for sharing your story. It’s a pretty amazing one. Sometimes politics and the media get it right!

  • Lindsay

    March 21, 2012

    Very good post! I will never go through one of those scanners. I can see why you did, though, to avoid having your chest groped.

    • Nancy

      March 21, 2012

      Lindsay, Thanks for the compliment! Yes, I hear you. Scanner or pat-down…each of us must choose between the lesser of two evils I guess…

  • Dianne

    March 21, 2012

    Wow!~

    That is so different than the experience I had when flying back from Texas prior to my wedding a few years back (before 2001).

    We had gone on a red-eye to visit my grandparents over Easter weekend. Before leaving, she gave us a knife and cake serving set for our wedding that had been in the family for years. The knife had at least eight inches of blade, with a decorative handle.

    The red eye was carry-on only. No checked bags allowed. My bag with the knife neatly wrapped in tissue went through the scanner and I was pulled aside. We explained it was for a wedding and we would have checked it if we could, but alas here we were. They just let us go through.

    The rest of the trip was uneventful and the wedding was wonderful – right down to the cake knife and server! And we’re still married!

    Sorry you had so much trouble. Makes one not even want to fly these days. Such a hassle.

    Dianne

    • Nancy

      March 21, 2012

      Dianne, Sadly, a lot has changed since 2001 hasn’t it? Now days a knife would be quite problematic to say the least! Glad you had an uneventful trip, a wonderful wedding, got to use the special knife and most importantly are still together! Thanks for sharing. My best.

  • I will be referring back to this post next time I fly to the US Nancy (and no hooded sweatshirt for me) Great post!

    • Nancy

      March 22, 2012

      Marie, Thank you and it’s probably smart to ditch the hoodie…

  • Ellana

    March 22, 2012

    I too hesitate to fly because of TSA. I am mad and you should be too. For all the millions of dollars they have spent we are not secure flying but we have learned to put up with being treated like meat. Write to your airport and tell them of your experiences. Write to your congress person too. The pat downs in any other context would be illegal. The fact that they don’t profile for potential terrorists makes it all a waste of time. Fight back, take names of the TSA personnel who harass or grope you. And. Go read Amy Alkon’s blog:
    http://www.advicegoddess.com/goddessblog.html
    Sorry to rant but we need to push back on this anyway we can.

    Search her site for TSA.

    • Nancy

      March 22, 2012

      Ellana, Thanks for your passionate comment. I never felt harassed, just frustrated and a little dumb-founded. Frankly, I don’t have the drive or energy to take this one on, plus I don’t travel by air that often, but thanks for the info and feel free to rant away. I admire “ranters” like you!

  • The Savvy Sister

    March 23, 2012

    Gosh I never ever thought about all the issues with traveling. I think I would have LOVED to remove my cap and produced a shiny spot to glare in the TSA agent’s eye.

    I can’t believe they had never seen a lymphedema sleeve….what an invasion of pivacy.

    I have a family member who works for TSA and he is a total creep loser…maybe they look for that type.

    • Nancy

      March 23, 2012

      Savvy Sister, There are a few issues aren’t there? Yes, I couldn’t stop wondering how I would have felt had I been traveling last year when I was bald… You sound way more brave/gutsy than me. I was very surprised by their apparent “surprise” over my lymphedema sleeve. The sleeves aren’t that uncommon. Maybe you should direct your family member to this post! Then again maybe not… ha. Thanks for commenting.

  • Cindy Sullivan

    March 23, 2012

    This was so eye opening!

    I will be flying next week for the first time since mastectomy and I still have expanders in and will be wearing a lymphedema sleeve and gauntlet.

    I think I’ll just opt for the pat down since it looks like I’m in for one anyway.

    Thank you all for you passion, your determination and your sense of humor!

    • Nancy

      March 23, 2012

      Cindy, I hope you found this post helpful as well as eye opening. It will be very interesting to see if you are “targeted.” Let me know how it goes. Good luck and thanks for commenting. Happy travels!

  • Liz

    March 23, 2012

    Great post! I received treatment interstate, so flew a bit during that era – I was advised to wear compression garments on my arm/hand and both legs. In a hot climate, none of this was disguisable – I felt like quite a sight getting on the plane, especially during my bandana era. The combined effect of all my paraphanalia was more than a little disconcerting – no more the carefree backpacker, that’s for sure! This did lead to a couple of nice conversations with airport staff who KNEW the significance of such an arm bandage and shared encouraging tales about the loved ones who’d led to them having this knowledge. A long way from your experience with TSA!

    And on the matter of head-coverings – a while back my family decided to go to Bali (which is close to the part of Australia we live in) for a post-treatment celebratory holiday – this is coming up soon. I had to apply for a new passport during the era in which I was almost completely bald. Needless to say, under Australian law no head coverings are allowed in passport photos. I have the most startling passport photo ever – what a reminder of the reason behind the holiday!! I just hope it never leads to awkward conversations at customs…

    • Nancy

      March 23, 2012

      Liz, Thank you so much for sharing. I guess you are well acquainted with all this… Sometimes it can all be a little disconcerting can’t it? I’m glad to hear you dealt with more knowledgeable TSA workers. Too bad they aren’t all so well-informed about such things. Well, I guess your passport photo will certainly be a memento of sorts won’t it? Good luck with your upcoming travels. Keep me posted on how things go. As someone else mentioned, never a dull moment, right?

  • Jan Baird Hasak

    March 25, 2012

    Wow, what a terrible experience, Nancy! I have never flown stand-by, and hope never to have to.

    No one in TSA has EVER questioned my lymphedema sleeve in all the air travel I’ve done since 1997 (including flights to Israel and Ireland). So I am shocked that they actually asked you questions about it. You are right: those sleeves are so tight, how could you put anything in them?

    I think the whole-body scanners might keep us safer, but I am uneasy about the whole privacy issue. Especially as a woman with breast cancer with no reconstruction, i.e., a freak.

    Thanks for initiating this lively discussion.

    • Nancy

      March 25, 2012

      Jan, Yes stand-by is a bit of an additional travel adventure that’s for sure. One must be willing to just go with the flow…It’s interesting to me that you have never been asked about your lymphedema sleeve. I know you have traveled quite a bit too. That’s why I raised the issue of consistency. It seems as if there should be standard guidelines or something, but I guess there aren’t. I’m not overly concerned with the scanners. I don’t like them, but…I am more concerned with the radiation aspect being potentially harmful. I understand your uneasiness, but your are NOT a freak my friend. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jan.

  • Betty

    April 8, 2012

    I’ve flown standby a lot of years ago with two young children. Carried one and one on my back. I have been bumped many times. Many experiences, adventures. The “price” was right for traveling. Ha. No problems traveling as a breast cancer survivor. My latest problem was traveling with insulin for diabetes. Keeping it cold with the limitations on liquid, ice melting. Think I have it figured out now, with artifical ice cubes. Drs. note has never been asked for but I have it along always. I only know one person who works for TSA, not my favorite person. But I’m sure there are informed people and uninformed people in every profession. Loved your post. It brought to mind many funny experiences I’ve had, that weren’t that funny at the time. Ah Life, Always a Challenge!

    • Nancy

      April 9, 2012

      Betty, I thought of you when we flew stand-by. I couldn’t remember you getting bumped that often, but of course, you probably did…I can’t imagine flying stand-by with really small children. That would really add to the stress. I imagine traveling with insulin does indeed present some challenges. Glad to hear you have a system down now that works. You’re right, there are informed people and uninformed people in every profession and the TSA is no exception! Thanks for sharing.

  • pinkunderbelly

    April 16, 2012

    Good grief, as if we haven’t been through enough with the cancer business! TSA hassles, too?? I’m so glad you wrote about this and elicited so many replies. I’ll remember everyone’s advice next time I fly. My plastic surgeon printed me a very official looking letter when I was scheduled to fly with my expanders, but sadly I never made that trip bc of the infection under one of those expanders. The letter probably wouldn’t have made a difference and may have even aroused more suspicion. Big sigh.

    • Nancy

      April 16, 2012

      Nancy, Yes, it was quit the experience. It was interesting reading about others’ experiences. TSA is just one more thing to deal with I guess. Good luck with any future air travel you have in mind. Let me know what you encounter.

  • Brandie

    March 27, 2013

    I’ve only flown once (round trip) since diagnosis. I was terrified to go through security because I heard all sorts of horror stories, and I had one tissue expander, one prosthetic and my lyphedma sleeve and glove.
    At both airports, no one flinched. I wasn’t questioned, pulled aside, no one commented. Nothing. Made it through just fine.
    My companion though got pulled aside at the airport to have her back felt and hands checked.

    • Nancy

      March 28, 2013

      Brandie, I’m so glad you had no difficulties. Lucky you! My travel experience was pretty darn stressful. I don’t mind the security stuff, I just expect a bit more sensitivity and awareness from TSA employees. Thanks for commenting.

  • Debbie

    March 27, 2013

    Love the thought of you scaring them by yelling ouch…I always have wheelchair assistance thanks to treatment wrecking my ability to walk very far and causing my gait to be slow and unsteady. As I was being wheeled to the old x-ray machine I asked quietly that I not be scanned. The attending agent hollers over to the wand guy, “this one has a pace-maker”! Imagine my indignity and then shock that I preferred to tell them I had cancer and not a bad heart. That was in Ft. Lauderdale. Last week I was in Springfield, Mo. Where the girl explained that the new scanners were completely safe. She was nice but a little condescending.

    • Nancy

      March 28, 2013

      Debbie, You were treated poorly IMO. I’m sorry. Perhaps some TSA workers need a bit more training in awareness about common medical issues/devices/equipment – and also in common courtesy. Thanks for sharing.

  • Karen Ford

    March 27, 2013

    Two weeks following a double mastectomy I flew in the US with drain pouches, sleeve, etc. and was not questioned by the TSA. Last October when I changed planes in London after flying from Rome, i was wearing a compression garment similar in style to a long sleeved shirt. I was pulled aside and taken into a room with two women who had me undress so they’ could be sure I was not dangerous. They would not accept my doctor’s note explaining why I was wearing the garment. They said curtly that they do not accept doc’s notes. So, the Brits are probably tougher than our TSA. I understand that Israel’s rules are pretty tough also. I think it all depends who is on duty with the TSA! Incidentally, the extra time it took made me miss my flight to NYC.

    • Nancy

      March 28, 2013

      Karen, It’s sort of surprising that you weren’t questioned about the drain pouches etc. back then. Good for you for traveling at such a time, or maybe you had no choice about the matter. I’ve heard that before about the British security being really tight. I’m sorry you had to go through that and also that you missed your flight as a result! Were they helpful in getting you on another one? I hope so. I think you’re right, it depends entirely on who is on duty. No surprise there I guess! Thanks for sharing.

  • Gayle

    March 28, 2013

    Before I had bc I was patted down EVERY TIME I went flew. Now I don’t…remove the boobs remove the threat? I don’t know. I wear a lyphedema sleeve that looks like at tattoo and usually have no questions. Sorry you had to go through the added stress.
    Gayle

    • Nancy

      March 28, 2013

      Gayle, Interesting that you are patted down less post bc. I have a new sleeve, too, now but I haven’t flown with it yet. It’ll be interesting to see if that changes things at all. Thanks for your comment.

  • Elaine

    March 28, 2013

    TSA needs to be trained and monitored better. I think it’s horrible. But I’m glad you got through itt, although i’m so sorry you had this crap to deal with.

    Well, I’m flying to the US next week, first time after BC. No sleeve, or anything, but I’ve got walking sticks and I’ve requested wheelchair assistance for my poor knees (nothing to do with BC). My oncologist gave me a note for the anti coagulant i need to inject before the transatlantic flight, so we’ll see. I’m wearing the simplest clothes i can – big sweater and leggings, and no jewlery, so we’ll see.

    I’ve gone through London once lasy autumn, no problem, but I’ve been pulled out of line and patted down in the UK lots of times before BC.

    • Nancy

      March 28, 2013

      Elaine, It will be very interesting to see how things go for you. It’s good that you have that note from your doctor. Did you see Karen’s experience with a doctor’s note? Not that that will be yours of course, just be sure to allow yourself plenty of time. I hope you have a wonderful trip and that things go smoothly for you. Let me know how it all goes, Elaine. Thanks for the comment and good luck!

  • Nancy Bradley

    August 13, 2013

    I will be traveling this fall for the first time since my diagnosis, surgery, and chemotherapy. I still have a port in place because of the continuing need for herceptin infusions. I was just wondering if anyone has had any recent problems with having a port in place and going through security at airports. We’ll be traveling through two large airports. I have a wrist band and a card explaining the port. Should I have those with me?

    • Nancy

      August 13, 2013

      Nancy, I definitely would keep the wrist band and the card explaining things with you. Good luck with your travels. Hope you don’t encounter problems with TSA. You don’t need that! Keep me posted.

  • Elaine

    May 14, 2014

    I was looking for information on the policies at airport regarding the removal of headwear at airports having seen my 24 year old son being told to take his hat off – he is just coming to terms with so much including the loss of his hair. Even when we pointed out he is having chemotherapy (and was on his way to the nearest hospital for more treatment, they still insisted. When I telephoned to question what had happened they tried to say they would not have asked him if they knew the situation; they added he could have left it on if it had been for religious reasons. They agreed they would never ask a woman to remove a wig or a bandana. I feel everyone should either have to remove headwear or should not have to – it is either a security risk or it is not and if it is there should be no exceptions. I believe that the scanner is as likely to pick up a problem under a thin woollen hat as it would under several layers of clothing. Goodness knows how I would be feeling if he had been in pain and had been told to lift his arms – I would have probably taken him home and passed the problem onto his doctors to sort rather than face it!

    • Nancy

      May 15, 2014

      Elaine, There does seem to be a lot of discrepancy doesn’t there? It would be just horrible if a person had to remove a wig. Going through TSA is stressful for everyone, but the added stress for an ill person or a cancer survivor can be even worse. Thank you for reading and commenting. My best to you and your son too.

      • Elaine

        May 15, 2014

        Thank you for your reply, just one person understanding where I am coming from makes such a difference. We actually live in Scotland – Shetland Isles – security should in my view be similar across the world. My best wishes to you too.

        • Nancy

          May 16, 2014

          Elaine, I do understand and I think you’re right about security. It seems things should be more uniform across the globe. My best to you as well.

  • Tammy

    July 3, 2014

    I flew right after reconstruction and couldn’t raise my arms above my head. I got the pat down every time. :)

    • Nancy

      July 3, 2014

      Tammy, Yes, the old pat down… makes a person quite uncomfortable doesn’t it? Thanks for reading and sharing.

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