Sunday, November 20, 2011

Just say NO

Here is an article in the Huffington Post that reports on the dangers of the full-body X-ray scanners being used in airports today. For several months now, we've been told, oh, no worries, the scanners are safe... radiation exposure is so minimal it's nothing to be concerned about. New studies are showing otherwise. They could be causing between 6 and 100 people per year to be diagnosed with cancer.

When I flew in August, I opted out and asked for the pat-down instead. Not surprisingly, I was - as far as I could tell - the only person in the huge line who said no to the scanner. It was a little embarrassing to be singled out, when I had to stand there next to the scanner while an employee hollered "PAT DOWN ON LINE 3!" (or whatever) so that the woman who did the pat downs knew to come over to me. She took me off to the side (I had the option of going to a separate room, but it didn't seem worth the hassle), and she was very, very polite and respectful the whole time. She made eye contact and explained everything she was going to do before she did it. She told me probably 3 times that she had to touch my breasts with the backs of her hands. She was clearly trying very hard to be kind about it, knowing that people really hate having pat-downs. The pat-down was no big deal to me, once I was over the mild embarrassment of knowing everyone was staring at me, the only one who said no to the scanner that they were all just going through with no hesitation. I wasn't upset to have this woman touching my clothed body with her gloved hands, even when she had to touch my breasts. I was very glad to have that instead of having more radiation put into my body. And after having spent 6 months going through breast cancer treatment, during which multiple strangers were doing things like sticking needles and wires into my naked breast, having this woman touch my clothed breasts with the backs of her gloved hands was NOTHING.

What I'm saying is, I highly encourage EVERYONE - especially those of you who fly frequently - to opt for the pat-down instead of going through the scanner. It's not fun to have a stranger touching your body, I know, but the way strangers have to touch your body to treat you for cancer is much worse. For me, the only embarrassing part was, like I said, being the only person saying no to the scanner and feeling singled out. But this won't be an issue if more and more of us start saying no. And speak up, if you can - say, "I won't go through the scanner. Radiation causes cancer." Other people will hear you, and maybe someone else will listen and follow your lead.