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All TopicsForum: Living Without Reconstruction After a Mastectomy → Topic: Full body scanners and foobs

Topic: Full body scanners and foobs

Forum: Living Without Reconstruction After a Mastectomy — Discuss prostheses, swimsuits, bras, and other options for women not having reconstruction or waiting for reconstruction.

Posted on: Aug 21, 2010 12:50PM

OLBinNJ wrote:

I have some concerns about privacy with the full body scanners.  I imagine that foobs will show up, and I'm not so sure the TSA will know what they are.  Will I be pulled aside and patted down?  If so, how private will it be?  If it's private, I would be willing to "flash" by foob, but how do I then explain to my traveling companions who have no idea about my breast cancer (and no need to know), why I was pulled aside?  Should I just opt out of the scanner and go for the pat down from the get go?  Has anyone had any experience with these new scanners?

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Nov 20, 2010 10:22PM Boo307 wrote:

Thank you so much for all the informative comments.  Yes the Port-A-Cath shows up on the new scanner.  I didn't know what it was when I was selected to go into the booth with no door knobs on the inside.  When I came out the TSA asked me what I had in my right chest pocket as he looked at my knit top with no pocket.  I pulled back the neckline to show him my port and explained that I had it for chemo.  He seemed grossed out or at least quite surprised.  I had no idea the scanner would show a detailed image of my naked body at the time.  It is sickening now to think of it.

I recently added up my exposure to radiation over the past three years and realized I have had 18 diagnostic procedures exposing my to radiation in addition to 6 weeks of radiation therapy.  I am now actively avoiding radiation at every opportunity.  I have a trip to Chicago coming up in January, so I may take the train and enjoy a return to an earlier era of travel, sleeper car and all.


Dx 3/18/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Nov 21, 2010 10:58AM AuntieJ wrote:

I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer early May 2010,  have had 5 months of chemo, and I am 3 weeks post masectomy of my left breast. My radiation is due to begin soon, and I may face other chemo options after this ends. I too am concerned about a few things including additional exposure to radiation and a problem with my VAD in my right upper chest-which will still be in place when I travel to Ireland in March. What kind of information will/should I have in hand when I travel. I too feel that the 'new' pat downs are very humiliating, and should not be done as wide open areas for others to watch. I had partially considered the full scanner method-but I have concerns about my port and being further humiliated by a full assaultive pat down. Suggestions please.

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Nov 21, 2010 11:34AM lewing wrote:

AuntieJ, a couple of thoughts.  First (at the risk of sounding foolishly optimistic), let's all hope that by March the combination of public outcry and added experience/training for TSA agents will lead to a more sensible approach.  (Like I said, that may be foolishly optimistic, but then, I'm a foolish optimist by nature.)

If you're willing to go through the scanner, you should be able to avoid the "full assaultive pat down."  The downside, of course, is the additional radiation exposure.  

My understanding of TSA policy is that IF you go through the scanner and something "suspicious" shows up, the pat down that follows should focus ONLY on the area that triggered the suspicion.  In your case, that would be your port and your foob, if you wear one.  That's how it went for me when I flew last week - the follow-up pat down was limited to my bra area (mercifully quick and non-intrusive) followed by a hand swabbing - but judging by news reports, that policy is not being followed consistently.

It can't hurt to inform the TSA personnel before you go through the scanner that you have an implanted medical device.  And if you have information on the port (I had a little card about mine), it certainly couldn't hurt to bring that.

Good luck.

Dx 1/15/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 1/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 3/13/2008 Lymph node removal: Left, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole) Chemotherapy Adriamycin (doxorubicin), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Nov 21, 2010 12:02PM mthomp2020 wrote:

Good to know about the port, as I was wondering if that would show up.  At this point in time, if I fly anywhere, I think I'll fly foobless, and show them my card with the port info on it.  I definitely do not want to deal with the pat-down.  Being stage IV, the radiation issue isn't as big a deal at this point for me.  I don't fly often enough to make it a big issue.  I think it's been 4 years since I last flew.

Marsha Dx 5/21/2007, IDC, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Nov 21, 2010 12:12PM grneyd5600 wrote:

You what was interesting - at Newark on my return trip this week they don't have the full body scanners anywhere but in the international terminal.  I was dreading that experience because honestly they are some of the most unfriendly TSA I have ever had to deal with.  Turns out it was "things as normal".  This week was my last flight until I finish up rads (which start next week( so sure hope TSA get's their game on before my next flight. 

In the meantime ladies, I definitely found telling them upfront I had inplants for BC made the process less invasive.  They were a lot less grabby and didn't seem as invvasive. 
Jackie Dx 3/26/2010, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 1, 4/22 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 22, 2010 01:21PM Erica wrote:

Like lewing, who posted above, after I told the TSA agent that I wore prostheses and wanted to opt out of the machine and just have a pat down, since they'd wind up doing one anyway, she told me that if I went through the machine, they would only pat down the questionable area.

In my case, I opted for no machine, so I did have the full pat down. I was not required to show them my prostheses, though in other cases I've heard about they do want to see it. So there's definitely inconsistency.

BreastFree.org (breastfree.org); BreastFree Blog (breastfree.blogspot.com); Twitter @BreastFree
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Nov 25, 2010 02:57PM Ruby25 wrote:

Hi, thankfully I have never had breast cancer and I hope I'm not offending anyone by using this forum, I just have no idea where else to air my concern. I am planning to fly to the US next year (from the UK) for a holiday, and ever since I heard about these full body scanners I have been concerned. I am an extremely private person and the thought of having one of these scans, let alone being subjected to an enhanced pat-down, is abhorrent to me.

I have noticably asymmetric breasts and have to pad out one side of my bra. If I do have to go through a scanner, I would like to be able to opt-out, but the thought of anyone touching my breasts, and god forbid, asking why one breast felt different... I know this probably sounds stupid to a lot of the people on this board, but I have spent a lot of my life trying to hide this problem, never telling anyone, and even the possibilty of having to worry about a stranger questioning me about it fills me with dread. I have a lot of, shall we say, 'issues' about my body, so much so that the last time anyone saw me naked I was still a child (I am now in my 20s). I am not a rape victim, I have never been molested, I have no medical issues, but I am still terrified of having to surrender my privacy in this way. I don't see why anyone should have to be worrying about this just because they want to go on holiday. Thank you and again I hope you don't mind me using this board.

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Nov 25, 2010 03:01PM ktym wrote:

Ruby, If anyone understands what it is like to dread the thought of our breast history looks and privacy being invaded it is us.  I agree that it seems terrible to have to worry about this.  I hope things have changed by the time you need to go through security

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Nov 25, 2010 05:25PM TokyoSing wrote:

I am going back to Tokyo after the Thanksgiving holidays.  Does anybody know what the procedure is at O'Hare?  Will I have to take my "foob" out to show them? 

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Nov 26, 2010 05:07PM CoolBreeze wrote:

Ruby, I'm so sorry that you are having these body issue problems.  I hope you get some help for them at some point - you would be amazed at what doctors can do.  Heck, my breast was cut off and put back almost perfectly - they can surely fix your unevenness.

That said, I compltely understand your fear and worry about this violation that the American government is putting on anybody who wants to fly. 

All I can say to you is that these machines are not in every airport yet.  They are planning on putting them everywhere but so far, not everybody is getting scanned and patted down.  There is a list on Gizmodo about where they are and you can try to fly into another airport. 

However, it doesn't guarantee you'll escape - all airports now are randomly selecting people out of the crowd for the pat-downs.  Your nerves about the situation might single you out for the pat-down.

If you don't go, I  would urge you to write to the airline you would be using to travel and explaining. As well as the hotels you would stay at, etc.  The only way that this will stop is if somebody ends up paying financially, and that is going to have to be the airlines. If people stop flying, they'll stop putting these machines in airports, and that's the only way it will go away.  But, it has to be swift and fierce or otherwise, they'll just think we'll get used to it.

And, most of the sheeple will get used to it - they don't think past what they are told and pretty soon, we'll be spreading our cheeks because some terrorist has put a bomb up his butt.  Meanwhile, bin Laden in his cave is laughing is arse off.

Ann's cancer blog: www.butdoctorihatepink.com .....multicentric/multifocal IDC/ILC+DCIS/LCIS/ADH Official dx? "Your breast was a mess." ~UniMastectomy/Chemo/Herceptin/Tamoxifen/Recon Almost Done! Oh wait. mets to liver 5/21/11 Now Stage IV Dx 8/17/2009, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+
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Nov 26, 2010 06:29PM Ruby25 wrote:

CoolBreeze, kmmd- thank you so much for your kind words. I feel like a fraud discussing my problem on this board, and I appreciate you being so understanding.

At the moment I'm not ready to talk to a doctor about it, although I am trying to move forward. I'm seeing a psychotherapist about anxiety/confidence issues but it's a slow process and I haven't come close to talking about my body. But if I do, it will be because I chose to, and surely that's just how it should be? 

 To come back to the main topic of this thread, if you've had a mastectomy, why should you be obliged to tell a stranger about it or to be expected to remove a prostheses to prove it's not a bomb? It's crazy. No one should have to put up with this, let alone those who have medical issues/disabilites etc. Someone in power should have said, this is a step too far, we need to think of another alternative.

If I decide not to go next year, I will take your advice CoolBreeze and write to the airline and hotels concerned. According to the website for Manchester airport (which I may fly from), if you refuse to be scanned then you simply can't fly, not even a pat-down option. I feel so powerless. I wish that more people in the UK were getting as angry about this as in the US (or is it just under-reported I wonder?). You are right about the sheeple- I'm fed up of hearing people dismiss those who don't want to be scanned as hysterical or over-sensitive. We have so much governmental intrusion into our lives already, I thought your body was at least the one thing they couldn't touch. 

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Nov 26, 2010 07:29PM ktym wrote:

Ruby, hugs

coolbreeze, sheeple is right.  TSA was pretty smart backing down and making things quiet on Wed, unfortunatley I think they know the American public well enough to know that if they can keep a low profile people will stop demanding things change.  Hope I'm wrong, but, I'm worried that your prediction of the butt bomber will be true.We're not safer on that plane because of these stupid regulations, but we are hassled and have lost privacy and basic rights.  Flying is optional, but, truthfully I thought in this country we all have some expectation of privacy and right against being detained and searched without cause even if we weren't doing mandatory activities. The fact that flying is optional is not the point. 

I saw a great you tube video of a t-shirt a radio announcer wore through security Wed. It said "The Terrorists Have Won" and the second line said "USMC Iraq Vet".  

I really don't want to minimize the horror of 9-11, that isn't what this is about.  However, I can't get over the feeling that they created a days event worth of horror, and in response we have spent years and billions of dollars of time and effort in new agencies, wars, etc, and in return we aren't any safer, but, we sure the heck have given up a lot of privacy and rights.  Cancer is much more likely to kill me than a terrorist attack.  That is just the statistics, for goodness sake why is our government adding in indecency and humiliation to what cancer has done.

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Nov 26, 2010 09:32PM - edited Aug 20, 2013 06:16AM by Mandy1313

 While this thread focuses on flights to and in  the US, the problem is not only about flights to the US.  UK airports have scanners too and they are not only  used for flights to the US. In July 2009, I was scanned on arrival to Heathrow, London from the US since I was going into a transit area to wait for a plane to Paris.    I was one month past chemo and probably looked pasty and weak. I had never seen a scanner before and thought it was some new metal detector.  I assumed the very thorough pat down was random but I have since learned that I likely did not pass the scan due to medical devices and a sanitary pad.  I point this out because this was in London England in order to change planes and to go to Paris. The US had nothing to do with it.  So I am afraid, that world wide, we are fairly powerless to prevent these checks by security. I am a very private person and only recently took a 6 hour train ride instead of a 1 hour plane trip to avoid these indignities. However, if I want to go cross country or to Europe, I will have to take a plane and be subjected to scans and pat downs. I think that we can and should demande better training of TSA personnel so they are sensitive to medical issues and civil rights issues.  But I do not know what we can do about personnel in other countries.  As the shirt of  the radio announcer to whom kmmd referred said:  "The terrorists have won." And to a certain extent, it would seem they have.


Dx 6/2008, IDC, 1cm, Grade 1, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 26, 2010 09:44PM carol1949 wrote:

I don't fly that much, but still am most concerned about losing our "right" as citizens.  These thoughtless measures are continuing to compound and grow.  We must take control and contact all of our politicians.  Not that they will listen. I still liken it to what will they do next... at what point are we going to be led like sheep to slaughter, work camps, or whatever they decide they want to do with us!  

Dx 4/4/2008, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIIB, ER+, HER2-
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Nov 26, 2010 11:16PM 1marmalade1 wrote:

I, for one, will not be taking my two intended trips from Toronto to the U.S. in 2011 - one to Las Vegas, the other to New Orleans.   A dear friend, who, like myself, has had a mastectomy and wears a prosthetic, went through the pat-down ordeal just last week on her way from NY to Chicago.  She said although the pat-down procedure took a matter of minutes, it totally RUINED her 4-day vacation.

I'll be taking future vacations by car, thank you.

Marm Dx 11/11/2009, IDC, 5cm, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+
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Nov 27, 2010 12:43AM ktym wrote:

Mandy1313, I'm still hearing those words echo, "world wide we're powerless".  I'm going to have to reflect on that.  The article nailed it "they were rushed in as a response".  Says it all about transportation security.  Carol, you're right.  I got out and worked on campaigns this past summer and fall like I hadn't done since my younger years. I've always voted, and, been more than ready to write letters, but, felt something more needed to be done.  I may not be able to do much about what other countries are doing, but still believe we can make a difference in the US. 

I've lost track of what has been on this thread vs the outrage at TSA thread.  The points about some congressman pockets being lined by selling these scanners is maddening.  Even if TSA backs off on using them,  we'll be footing the bill for them thank you very much.

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Nov 27, 2010 05:25AM Gingerbrew wrote:

The former head of the TSA is in leadership at the company that sells the scanners. I forgot his name, but my husband gave me this info. Okay, not my husbands name! The name of the former head of the TSA! Hah!

Dx 5/27/2010, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 1/20 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 6/10/2010 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Chemotherapy 8/2/2010 AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy 1/10/2011 Breast Hormonal Therapy 6/10/2011 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 5/10/2012 Aromasin (exemestane) Hormonal Therapy 4/11/2013
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Nov 27, 2010 09:39AM - edited Aug 20, 2013 06:16AM by flash

Of course the former head of the TSA used his connections to help make this go through.  He probably saw the opportunity with the scanner company and was smart enough to jump ship.  It just figures....

Someone earlier asked if they can ask that gloves be changed before the pat down.  YES. You absolutely are allowed under TSA's own policy to ask for new gloves.  New gloves are an issue with those of us on CPAP machines that have to be handled and inspected and could lead to bacteria being blown directly into our lungs.  You may get some resistance but stand ground and ask for a supervisor, the surpervisor will confirm that gloves can be changed at an individuals request.  Especially important for anyone with a compromised immune system.  Those gloves are much higher in bacteria and viruses than even the uncleaned airline seat.

multifocal multicentric IDC, DCIS, pagets et al. - er+,pr+ her2+++, mast,chemo, ooph, hyst Dx 10/10/2007, Paget's, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Nov 27, 2010 02:52PM Mandy1313 wrote:

As an aside, my daughter sent me a link to special underwear that when scanned reveals the Fourth Amendment in a special metallic ink.    http://www.refinery29.com/stick-it-to-tsa-body-scans-with-these-shirts-containing-a-hidden-message.php  

Dx 6/2008, IDC, 1cm, Grade 1, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 27, 2010 03:43PM ktym wrote:

Mandy, that underwear is awesome, capitalism at its best right there.

I heard back from the TSA, I had sent an email regarding the glove issue.  They DO NOT have a policy about changing gloves between people.  Think about it.  Up close and personal on the skin and to the groin pat downs with no policy about having to put on a fresh pair of gloves before the next victim comes through.  They did reassure me that I had every right to ask that a TSA agent put on clean gloves before patting me down

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Nov 27, 2010 06:40PM otter wrote:

kmmd, I read somewhere that you should make sure the person doesn't just take some gloves out of his/her pocket (where he/she probably stashed the gloves that were used on previous travelers).  A TSA person said it would be too expensive to change to new gloves for each passenger; but we're allowed to ask them to change.  (There was no indication that we have the right to have them use new gloves -- we just have the right to ask.)

My head is spinning with all this stuff.  I've read some blog entries and complaints filed with the ACLU that make me nauseous.  The TSA is completely unaccountable for what they do, and they know it (they even boast about it).  There are no standard procedures, at least none that are available for the traveling public to read.  The "official" S.O.P.'s are top-secret; but TSA agents at the individual airports don't follow them anyway (not that it would matter, since we don't know what they are).  I cannot think of another example of a governmental policy for which there are no "rules" -- you know, sort of a Bill of Rights for passengers.  What is the TSA agent allowed to do?  What procedures, actions, or statements, are out of bounds and justify a complaint?

Even the guards at a prison have to follow rules in how they deal with the inmates.  TSA?  Apparently not.


Dx 2008, IDC, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Nov 27, 2010 06:51PM ktym wrote:

Otter!   Every once in awhile the old gag reflex from chemo kicks in and your post just did it.  OMG.  I was just reviewing it with DH.  You and he had thought it through and I hadn't.  DH said he's worried they'll recycle out of a box as well as their pocket.  You're right, TSA told me I had a right to ask, I'm going to contact them again and ask if I have a right to insis,t to clean gloves.  I think you're right about how unaccountable TSA is and how prison guards have more rules to follow. 

What we really need is some of the brave souls who have been willing to go through airports in bikinis taping encounters etc to be willing to confiscate some of these gloves and get them to a micro lab.  A little MRSA, a little C.Diff, a little virus among friends.  All in the name of national security.  Can you imagine how impossible it would be to obtain compensation for an infection or illness contacted through multiple glove ussage? 

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Nov 27, 2010 07:42PM - edited Aug 20, 2013 06:16AM by dreaming

I travel abroad every year and I like everybody else in the country where I go , I get pat down, many years ago it was the same in Germany, Italy because of terrorists, it is nothing new.

I also travel in the US,and it doesn't bother me; up front , I tell them I had B.C and that also I have surgical clips.

There is other ways to travel in the US, drive, take the train, if you want to avoid scanners and being pat down.

About the pilots, they should have a sobriety test before departure, I have read of many being drunk on the way to work.

To the "better ways "I will like to know which are those.

Do not forget they can not use profiling like the Israeli Airlines do.

 Because of terrorists, that have been found trying to kill non Muslims, in planes, we have to be live in a state of insecurity.

I am all for strict security,  I get nervous when in my flight we have veiled women or men that are speaking in Arabic.

I prefer to be safe than sorry.

After the mastectomy a second diferent cancer was found: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, C.F.M.: Dx 7/7/1991, ILC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/18 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 28, 2010 04:13PM - edited Nov 29, 2010 07:51PM by 1Badboob

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Nov 28, 2010 10:57PM hrf wrote:

I just got a joke from someone. It's about a scanning device that, when people go through - it detonates any explosives that a person is carrying on their body ...... that would work!!!  LOL

BRCA2+ first dx in Oct. 2004 2nd dx Feb. 2009 a new primary
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Nov 28, 2010 11:33PM otter wrote:

hrf, I saw that one, too.  And, the punchline was the announcement over the PA system that a seat had become available for a passenger on the standby list.


Dx 2008, IDC, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Nov 29, 2010 12:36AM crazy4carrots wrote:

Dh and I just returned from an overseas trip departing from Toronto.  No scans, just very careful search of carry-on luggage and just the usual wanding.  Flat shoes (so we didn't have to remove them -- of course dH not in habit of wearing stilettos LOL).  Same thing coming home.  Hey, and we arrived safely and obviously no bombs on board.

TSA regulations seem totally outrageous and I wouldn't put up with it for a minute.  Needless to say, I won't be taking any flights into the US UNTIL those regs are revised.  With the amount of international/CIA/FBI intelligence to thwart bombers before they even get NEAR an airport, does it seem like overkill?  I think so  and so do many intelligence experts.  My niece is returning from San Francisco tonight -- looking forward to hearing her experience.

The demagogue preaches doctrine he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots. Dx 1/10/2008, ILC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Nov 29, 2010 08:02PM - edited Dec 5, 2010 04:51PM by 1Badboob

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Nov 30, 2010 09:19AM Annabella58 wrote:

If anyone wants to draft a letter and post it, it would be welcome.  I will personally volunteer to send to our CT congressman.

Anyone else?

I will be travelling, but will be asking for a private room, a female attendant, and I will be ready for the wait.  Frankly, more concerned about the plane ride home from Germany, and the issues with security there.

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Dec 11, 2010 10:15AM hrf wrote:

I just returned from my first trip since dx and tx. Went to Boston from Toronto. No one used the scanners - just the regular metal detectors ... both ways. Although I was prepared and had  dr's note ... turned out to be nothing different. Still, best to be prepared and don't know if I really want to do this again.

BRCA2+ first dx in Oct. 2004 2nd dx Feb. 2009 a new primary

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