OSU Cancer Researcher Makes Prosthesis ID Card For Flyers

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A woman lines up between two black boxes that make up the full-body scanner. It takes only seconds to conduct the scan. TSA officials say passengers are chosen at random.(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News Reporter)
A woman lines up between two black boxes that make up the full-body scanner. It takes only seconds to conduct the scan. TSA officials say passengers are chosen at random.(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News Reporter)

Last week, TSA agents questioned a New York woman after medical devices were discovered under her clothes during a full-body screening. The breast cancer survivor is waiting to have reconstructive surgery. WOSU reports an Ohio State cancer researcher hopes a new I-D card will make security check points less insidious for breast cancer survivors.

Let’s face it, airport security check points are no fun. Full-body scanners; pat downs; limited liquids in the plastic baggy; shoes off; coats off; computers out of their cases…and get behind someone who does fly very often…well, it can make anyone want to pull out their hair.

But imagine for a moment you’re a breast cancer survivor who wears a prosthesis, and it is detected by the body scanner.

“I explained my situation and there was very little compassion or understanding.”

Dr. Electra Paskett, an OSU cancer researcher, was first pulled aside during a screening at Port Columbus a year ago.

“I requested to be screened in a private area. And that of course it created a little angst by the TSA. Well you’re going to have to wait until we get another person. That’s fine with me. So they pat down and then they do their little testing for explosives,” Paskett said.

Paskett wanted to be able to discretely explain her situation to TSA. So she created a prosthesis ID card that breast cancer patients and survivors can hand to TSA agents. It includes the provider and patient’s information as well as whether the patient wears one or two prosthesis.

“To be able communicate our situation to TSA representatives in a very confidential manner, and second, hopefully then allow the TSA agent to engage in some compassion, understanding of the situation,” she said.

Paskett said she used the card for several months and has received positive response from agents as well as TSA management.

Paskett said she’s not trying to get out of security checks or pat downs because of her prosthesis. But she said having to explain it each time she’s stopped at the airport undermines her triumph over the disease.

“You know you’re thinking you’re going on a vacation or business trip and here’s one more reminder and you’re treated rudely even though, you, as a warrior have survived breast cancer,” Paskett noted.

WOSU contacted the TSA regarding Paskett’s ID card and was told we would receive a written statement. As of this broadcast, no such statement was received.

Breast cancer prosthesis ID cards are available at Hope’s Boutique located in the JamesCare Comprehensive Breast Center on Olentangy River Road.

Following production of this piece, TSA in a written statement said, “Our officers have been trained to safely and respectfully screen all passengers including those with medical devices.”

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