Mom With Breast Cancer Says She Was 'Humiliated' & 'Violated' by TSA Agents


Denise Albert/Facebook

Complaining about airport security is one of America's favorite pastimes, but Denise Albert, cocreator of The Moms Network and currently a breast cancer patient, has more reason to complain this week than most: Denise says that two TSA agents "harassed" her in the Los Angeles airport, touched her inappropriately, and didn't respect her medical condition. She says she has "never been so humiliated or felt more violated in my life."

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Denise shared a video of part of the incident, and she detailed the specifics on her website and on Facebook:

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The short version is this: Denise was traveling out of LAX and enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program. At security, she says, she told an agent about the medical cream she was traveling with, as well as about her condition in general and the metal port in her chest. She also explained that she didn't want to walk anywhere in bare feet because of her risk for infection.

Denise says the agents still put her shoes through the x-ray machine, but they allowed her to sit in a chair with her feet up during her pat down (which we assume she was given because she couldn't walk in bare feet through the body scan machine). She removed her wig when they patted down her head because she didn't want them touching it, then replaced it. Then she says she waited for 20 minutes while the agents discussed the next steps.

This is about where the video picks up -- it shows a TSA agent giving her what seems to be a routine pat down (though Denise described it as "forceable and aggressive" and found the whole thing really invasive, ugh). She says that at some point she was offered a private space, but since it's protocol that the pat down be finished before she's given back her shoes, she didn't want to walk to a room barefoot.

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After the video cuts out, Denise says, she lifted up her shirt because she didn't want them touching the medical port in her chest she had surgically inserted in June as part of her treatment. That's when she says law enforcement was called, and after the agents went through her bags and "joked" about the items in there, she was let through security and onto her flight.

Honestly, the way Denise describes it, the whole thing sounds nightmarish. As much as we understand the need for careful screenings and tight security at airports, we hate the idea that anybody -- whether he or she has anxiety, a history with abuse, a medical condition, the face/name/whatever that would result in being profiled unfairly, or literally anything else -- would come out of a security line feeling so violated.

In a segment with ABC, Denise said she thinks the agents who searched her should be fired:

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While we don't necessarily agree firing the agents is the best solution, it's awful that Denise feels so distressed and upset by her experience. The TSA apologized and said it began looking into the situation after Denise filed a formal complaint, and we hope we can trust it to figure out if the agents did break protocol. If it finds that they did, we hope the TSA can also figure out the best way to make sure no one else has to feel as violated as Denise says she did. Because that's unacceptable.

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