You are the most magical place on earth. Yes, even more magical than Disneyland. I've not seen you for a while, and I miss the smell of plumeria and how the flowers seem to fall from the sky. I miss the tiny raindrops blowing down from the hills, the sparkling rainbows, and the sounds of the surf and gentle Hawaiian music.
Hawaii, you are the home I've always wanted, the place I feel most alive. I'd hoped, once I was done with cancer treatment, healed and back to health, I would celebrate my survival with a vacation in beautiful Maui, where some of my happiest memories lie.
But, I will not be visiting you again. You see, to get to you, I now have to submit to an assault. I love you, but not enough to survive a physical violation to get to you.
It seems that at airports now, all flyers have to be scanned in such a way as to show our bodies naked. And, people with implantable medical devices, such as silicone breast implants used in reconstruction, are selected for secondary, "enhanced" pat-downs, because we are out of the norm.
My darling Hawaii, you may not be aware that since August, women on the various breast cancer boards have posted about the new screening, and how they are being pulled out for pat-downs, over and over again, due to having a prosthesis or an implant. No one escapes. There has just been a news story about a flight attendant who had to pull out her prosthesis during an airport screening, but she isn't the only one - many women have posted similar experiences. I've been reading first person stories about this for months, as these scanners have come online at airport after airport. Women with implants due to cancer, who have suffered enough, are getting stopped and selected for searches. The machines are supposedly sensitive enough to read the serial numbers on our implants - and we carry cards that match those numbers - yet nobody has been trained to let us through or allow us to bypass this last violation of our bodies.
These security checks are humiliating and intrusive. Once you fail the scan (or admit you have an implanted device) you must submit to an enhanced pat-down. You may not change your mind and leave. The TSA "agent" will touch your body, your breasts and your genitals. They run their fingers through your hair, down your face, under your clothing. These are not, by the way, trained police professionals who suspect that you have violated a law. They don't really think you are a boobie bomber. These are $12.00 an hour government drones whose jobs don't even require a high school diploma. They don't care that you have done nothing (except get sick.) They aren't paid to make intelligent judgment calls, they just do what they are told, reasonable or not. Some hate it, I'm sure. Some get their jollies from it, I'm sure.
I'm also sure that patting down 50 year old mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers who are cancer survivors goes far beyond what is necessary to keep us safe from terrorists. I'm sure that our founders would be horrified at what this nation is coming to.
We cancer survivors are being selected for assault, our privacy violated, completely against our will, for no other reason than we had a disease and chose to hide or repair our disfigurement. That has to be some sort of HIPPA or disability rights violation.
I love you, my beautiful Hawaii. But not enough to be strip-searched to get to you. Not enough to have the government cup my breasts, stick their gloved fingers down my backside and up into my crotch - merely because I had cancer.
I gave up my breasts to this disease. I gave up my hair. I gave up a year and a half of my life to sickness and treatment. I will not give up my dignity.
And, Good-bye, Sweet America.
|Tell me this isn't intrusive (as well as impressive)|
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