Denise Albert: ‘I have never been so humiliated or felt more violated in my life’
File this story in your how-not-to-treat-a-human-being-who-is-enduring-an-illness folder. Actually no human period should be treated this way. ‘The Moms’ co-founder, Denise Albert, who is battling breast cancer, was traveling from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) earlier this week when she had an extremely troubling experience going through security. Her pat down looked more like an insensitive and inappropriate intrusion than a standard check.
“I have never been so humiliated or felt more violated in my whole life,” Albert wrote in a Facebook post that has sparked outrage on the internet. Albert posted a video with a candid account of what happened with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents.
“I was scared, I was shocked and I just kept thinking ‘I want this over with.’ I just wanted it over and I was trying to remain calm,” Albert tells Scary Mommy. She said part of her fear was the fact that the TSA is a government agency and there’s this underlying fear that if you resist anything you’ll end up in serious trouble.
“It’s shocking that I didn’t stop it sooner, but I guess I was paralyzed with fear,” Albert says.
After the invasive body search in between her legs and backside, the TSA agent went for Albert’s breasts. In the video you can hear Albert telling her, with voice quivering, presumably on the verge of tears over the whole ordeal, “You can’t touch me there. You can’t touch me there, sorry.”
Another TSA agent comes over and asks what the issue is. Albert explains to both of them that she has breast cancer and she has a metal port in her chest that they cannot touch. A port, or catheter is routinely surgically implanted into those undergoing cancer treatments because it allows for the medicines to be injected and blood to be drawn without blowing out the person’s veins. The agents refused to listen to her and insisted they had to “clear everything.”
Albert says she asked them why they were searching her this way and they allegedly told her that it’s because she was traveling with medical cream. To which Albert makes a good point, why didn’t agents just test the cream like they normally do? The medical cream is used to treat an infection that affects her feet. Which brings us to the other issue here: Albert was traveling TSA pre-check, meaning she shouldn’t have had to remove her shoes. You may have noticed that she was holding her bare feet up as the TSA agent was conducting the search. It was medically unsafe for her to remove her shoes because of the risk of infection to her feet. She explained this to agents as well, which apparently was ignored.
The situation escalated even further when agents insisted that they’d have to touch her head and wig. So she took it off herself.
“I didn’t want them to touch it, move it, or ruin it. So I ripped it off for them to pat my head without damaging my wig (that I paid for and insurance didn’t cover!) I don’t ever go out in public without it,” Albert wrote in her Facebook post.
Once supervisors arrived to assist in the situation, Albert was offered a private screening room. Yeah, after all of that, she was offered a private room.
The TSA issued a statement on Wednesday after the incident apologizing to Albert, according to NBC 4 in Los Angeles. The organization also claimed that all 3,000 employees will go through refresher training. Albert is happy she spoke out publicly because she thinks a lot can be learned from the incident.
“I’m hoping by being so public with this that it will bring awareness for the agents and for people with medical conditions and disabilities to know their rights.”
Denise Albert, co-founder of “The Moms” has been very public about her battle with breast cancer. You can read more about her journey on her Facebook page.
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