Cancer survivor feels violated by TSA at Kansas City International Airport

UPDATE: More breast cancer survivors come forward after 'embarrassing' pat-downs

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - A breast cancer survivor said she felt violated after receiving what she calls an embarrassing pat-down at Kansas City International Airport.

It was supposed to be a crowning moment. Marcia Deitrick of Independence was celebrating five years cancer free. She flew out of Kansas City to Indianapolis to celebrate with a friend, and fellow cancer survivor.

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Deitrick said the moment was ruined before she could even start celebrating, when a TSA agent violated her and made her feel down-right embarrassed.

Dietrick said she went through security and a body scan, as usual. Then, she said a TSA agent asked her to step aside. What happened next makes Deitrick sick to her stomach.

"I'm standing there with my arms in the air and the agent is feeling my chest and everybody is looking at me I'm sure wondering what does this woman have on her chest? What's wrong with her chest?" she said.

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Deitrick explained to the agent that she has silicone implants from reconstructive surgery, and that chemotherapy left her breasts with 20 inches of scar tissue. Yet, the agent she said, never asked if she wanted a private pat-dow, or if her breast area was too tender to be touched.

Deitrick said she would have asked the TSA agent for a private screening, but she was so caught off guard that she forgot.

"I was just dumbstruck,” she explained. “I just stood there while she ran her hands around my breasts and across them. That moment, I felt violated."

Deitrick wanted to share her story to make sure other cancer survivors don’t have to experience a similar pat-down.

RELATED | Breast cancer survivors come forward after "embarrassing" pat-downs

"I was just so shocked that I was numb and as the days went by, I got angry. I thought, 'I don't want this to happen to me again and I don't want it to happen to another woman either,'" she said. "If they can see through my clothes with screening technology and see my mastectomy scars and my implants, why then did they need to touch them?"

41 Action News took Deitrick's concerns straight to TSA Spokesperson Ann Davis. 

“Despite advances in technology, a physical pat down is still necessary in some cases to detect anomalies found by advanced imaging technology," she said. "We work to make our screening process as minimally invasive as possible, while still providing the level of security Americans want and deserve. At any point passengers can request a private screening with a witness present.”

Davis admits the agent should have asked Deitrick if she wanted a private pat-down. She said her organization is now investigating and will take appropriate action, if warranted.

The TSA also recommends filling out a TSA notification card. Transportation agents said if you have a medical condition, you can fill the card out as a way to discreetly tell an agent about your condition and factors that may impact your screening.

The card also works to request a private screening, if you're too nervous or forget to ask.

A template for the TSA notification card can be found here:

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