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American Airlines Tells Cancer Survivor to Cover Sweater Celebrating Her Recovery

American Airlines Tells Cancer Survivor to Cover Sweater Celebrating Her Recovery

American Airlines gate agents reportedly told a two-time cancer survivor to cover a sweater celebrating her recovery before allowing her to board a flight. The sweater in question boldly exclaimed: ‘F**K Cancer’ which falls foul of American’s dress code policy for inappropriate language – no matter how well-intentioned the sweatshirt was meant to be.

Roslyn Singleton of North Carolina said the incident left her feeling humiliated after a gate agent pointed at her top while she was stood in line and waiting to board a recent American Airlines flight.

“I don’t love cancer,” Singleton told WSOC-TV.  “I don’t respect it, and my sweatshirt gave my exact sentiments on something that has tried to kill me twice.”

The cancer survivor said she was made to cover up the message but even then a second American Airlines staff member reprimanded her for her choice of clothing.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Dallas Forth Worth-based airline said the dress code policy prohibits “clothing that displays offensive statements and inappropriate language from being worn on board.”

According to WSOC-TV, a spokesperson said that the airline should have handled this particular incident differently.

“In this instance, our team should have taken the broader context of the message displayed on the customer’s shirt into consideration when explaining our policies,” an emailed statement explained.

“Our team is reaching out to learn more about Ms. Singleton’s experience, apologize and reaffirm our support for efforts to fight cancer.”

American Airlines has a partnership with Stand Up To Cancer which has helped to raise well over $8 million for cancer research. Every October, American employees are allowed to wear pink for breast cancer awareness month.


Photo Credit: GagliardiPhotography / Shutterstock.com

View Comments (90)
  • That the gate agent didn’t take it upon themselves to exempt the passenger should not be the gate agent’s fault. Offensive language is offensive language.

    Should we make cancer patients exempt from wearing masks and other rules of travel? It seems strange to me that someone so proud of her achievement of beating cancer (which is laudable indeed) is now so embarrassed and injured for having her statement pointed out (which is likely the point of wearing such conspicuous clothing in the first place).

    • Agreed. If we start bending rules for one slowly will have to for others who will try to prove how they are sensitive about as well.

        • As a cancer victim, will never be a survivor, I applaud American Airlines for refusing to put up with offensive language. The customer should pull out her Thesuarus and learn some new words that can express her feelings.

          • Agree completely! Couldn’t have said it better. Wish the airline would hold its ground on this.

        • So just because she wore a sweater does that tell you beyond a doubt she had cancer. I happened to be in the airport and saw her walking with three other folks displaying the large F word My beloved wife died of cancer after 22 months of chemo and she would not have approved of this if she were alive today.

          • I totally agree. I sympathize with the woman however, the language is totally inappropriate and frankly should be banned from being printed on clothing. Parents should not have to explain shirts with foul language to their children. Adults should be more conscious of the example they set both in their attire and in their communication/language in public spaces. It is disheartening to sit in a family restaurant with children or grandchildren and have grown adults (not teenagers) sitting at an adjacent table and every other word out of their mouth is a swear word. Families should not be subjected to that type of environment. Society has lost all respect for others.

        • Clearly you are blinded by your own battle and recovery from cancer. That, or you are just a poor, pathetic, troll with nothing better to do. That Ms. Singleton beat cancer is great. That she is a veteran is great. That she chose to represent both groups with profanity is deplorable, and casts a negative shadow on both groups. American Airlines was right in what the did oirginally, and have no need to be apologetic. You, on the other hand…

      • I totally agree with the gate agent. The “F” word was a terrible choice for the patient. She knew there would be a problem at the plane. If my child was sitting near the individual with that word on their outset clothes, i would raise a lot of noise about it.

        • Instead of making a ruckus, in defense of your child over a word, why not instead use it as an opportunity to teach. Remind your child that many words in the English language can have more than one meaning. Let your child know that “fuck” is an expression of annoyance, “to ruin or damage something” when it is used the way it was on this woman’s shirt. It didn’t mean the other way it is defined as “an act of having sex”. Let your child know that freedom of speech is what this country is about & that once upon a time people use to burn books. Be grateful sweet child that we live in a melting pot of diversity. How lucky we are.

          • My daughter is a cancer survivor. My mother was also til the 3rd bout got her. I am a retired nurse after 37 years of nursing and was also a hospice nurse. I understand the woman’s happiness and empowerment in surviving that disease but the term is offensive to many people and not appropriate for the general public. And should not put a parent in a position of having to explain before they think their child is ready.

          • Bravo. Best answer. My applause to you…and yeah, Fuck Cancer. It killed my Dad, my Uncle, a teacher, a coworker, and tried to kill my Mom. I’ve also had a couple of other family members who had it, albeit in less agressive forms. So yeah, that sentiment sits about right with me. Also, for the parents who would be appalled to see those words worn around your child, they’re going to have to grow up someday, and they may even use that language themselves…and I sincerely hope not, but they may even become a cancer survivor one day, and I’m pretty sure they would also agree with the sentiment expressed on the shirt in question.

          • Well how about just understanding that there are better ways to express thing then what is considered swear words and people with manner learn some words are best not said. She had a whole darn dictionary of words to use but she used that. That is tacky. For society to work properly then manners matter and keep the adult swear words some place else. Meanwhile it just sound stupid excuse it is not even being used in the right contents of the word. I see people who do this usually have a very limited vocabulary and do not care about how other may view it. Keep the shirt for home or the bar.

          • Eventually it’s necessary to explain these things to children. I would prefer to choose the time and place. I also prefer not to expose my children to crap like this when possible. This woman was an idiot to think that was acceptable. Trash like her can thumb a ride to her destination. Some like minded scum will pick her up.

      • Exactly!!! Say you hate cancer, which is a totally appropriate statement that no one will have trouble with.

      • Been there. Cancer took my breasts but not my regard for others feelings. Having had cancer doesn’t give anyone the right to offend others.

      • I would feel exactly the same. Surviving cancer is a great cause for celebration, but you don’t get a pass to be a tacky PITA to others. The airline has a planeful of passengers to consider, not just her. It was a crude, classless way to be grateful.

      • Get over yourself, she’s not embarrassed to wear the word fuck on her sweatshirt, but she’s embarrasses somebody pointed out that a rule is a rule? Doesn’t matter if she had one bout of cancer, or two bouts of cancer, I actually own a t-shirt that says that, but I would know that it would be breaking the airlines Rules if I chose to try to wear it going on a flight. A rule is a rule, so save your nasty piss Inus that you’re displaying towards everybody for their opinion and just relax.

      • I’m a flight attendant and a cancer survivor. Cancer has robbed me of a chance at motherhood and I have not yet reached 30. Policies exist for a reason. I 100% agree with the sentiment ‘f**k cancer.’ I don’t think it’s an appropriate sweater to wear on an airline.

    • That language is offensive. I am a two time survivor who hates cancer, too, but I wouldn’t wear a shirt like that.

    • Well sweetcheeks seems to me you’ve never experienced anything so traumatic. Just reserve you selfish comments until you know more. Is your name Karen?

      • Why should she be exempt? Offensive language and words are offensive, no matter the circumstances. While I am certainly pleased she beat cancer… Twice… That does not replace common courtesy and class. Buy another, more appropriate sweater and wear the other one at home. I hope there are no small children around.

      • Well, David. Your response is exactly the type of response one would expect from another classless individual. Seriously?! Grow up!

    • The headline is misleading. It should read, “American Airlines Tells Cancer Survivor to Cover The Word Fu*k”.

    • Why should she be exempt? Offensive language and words are offensive, no matter the circumstances. While I am certainly pleased she beat cancer… Twice… That does not replace common courtesy and class. Buy another, more appropriate sweater and wear the other one at home. I hope there are no small children around.

  • American was right and shouldn’t cave on this. I’m happy for the woman as a cancer survivor but many of us don’t want to have our children exposed to offensive things like the saying on the sweatshirt. The reason for the sentiment of the message doesn’t change things. If American enforces the policy objectively then I support them!

  • Yea, this was handled VERY poorly. With so many incidents of airline employees doing things wrong towards passengers, I would think that more training would be put in place to teach these idiots how to/how not to address problems with passengers.

    • There’s nothing wrong with the actions taken by the gate agent.
      FUCK AMERICAN AIRLINES for not having their employees’ back for enforcing the rules AA told them they’re to enforce.

    • If we start bending rules for one slowly will have to for others who will try to prove how they are sensitive about things as well.

  • When people wear obscene things……then get a reaction….
    I would have made her take it off too. What if the shirt said F**K Biden? Would that have acceptable? Of course not.

  • I agree that American Airlines personnel were imposing the rules given to them. The shirt is offensive and shame on the corporate individuals from the airlines who cave on these issues. I cannot help but feel when I read some of these stories, that people are trying to get something out of the airlines for their “so-called” humiliation. She was asked to cover it up. Not a huge deal.

  • Profanity is not allowed is wardrobe…if they allow fuck Cancner they have to allowe fuck covid and dfk many things. Common SENSE.

  • There’s more tasteful and less tacky ways to express that cancer survivor spirit. But a policy is a policy. Either profanity on clothing is permitted or it is not. Selectively enforcing policy is bad business.

  • “… while she was stood in line…” Grammar police anyone? Every day I read these posts and almost always find grammatical errors. Please proof read and check your work before publishing.

  • How about the cancer survivor humiliating all the parents that still try to enforce an education to their kids?
    Using profanity to announce a personal victory is not a good ideea. No, it does Not make it ok!
    It’s just that people in general degraded. Less and less care for decency, education and other fellow humans.
    Did anyone see those T-shirts worn by Holocaust survivors? The ones with ” F*#@ Nazi” ? No, because back then we had strong, decent people.

  • Sounds like communism. I hate communism will be my next shirt and under that it will say fuck communism. Make me remove my top shirt and there you go my real feelings. By the way why don’t my feelings count?

    • It’s amazing how many people on here are sticking up for the airline but I bet every one of you listen to the sordid rap music and watch the likes of Cardi B and her nasty moves. I also bet that none of you block the tv channels with questionable language. Hypocrisy at its best with the nasty comments on here. You can’t have it both ways

      • I dont listen to rap music. You’re chastising folk based on your own prejudices and assumptions. Even if I did listen to it, it’s not same as blasting in public. The rule is the rule and the agents were right in pointing in out and asking for it to covered.

      • listen to less than proper music however, I would not blast it for others to be forced to listen to it, and I don’t listen to it around children. So I mean, I’m trying to figure out why you think that just because people listen to or have certain things that they force others to be exposed to it?

    • I’m always amazed how deep American society has sunk. I was at Disneyland a couple of years back and a mexican had 2-Pitbull dogs printed on the back of his T-shirt in the act of mating that read “Burying the Bone”. In the 1970s you couldn’t enter Disneyland with your shirt tail untucked.

  • Congratulations for beating cancer twice, you have every right to celebrate. But what you do not have is the right to wear clothing that contains words that many find offensive. You are a grown woman and I am certain that you know the saying “There is a time and a place for everything” and an airport and airline are not those kinds of places.
    I want to share a story with you and I hope you will learn a lesson from how this young man behaved in a similar situation.
    I was sitting in jfk waiting to board my flight when I saw a tattoo covered young man walk past me wearing a vest with the “f” word all over it. I thought to myself, “Man I hope I don’t have to sit near that vest!” Note I said “that vest” and not “that young man”. I got on the plane, found my seat and what was sitting right next to my seat, but “the vest”. I was embarrassed to have to go to the back and ask the flight attendant to ask him to remove “the vest”. She went and spoke with him and then came back to me. She told me that he had apologized profusely and without complaining or anything he stood up, quietly removed “the vest” and stored it above his seat.
    I then went and sat down next to him and we started chatting as though none of the past few minutes had happened. We had a nice chat until he fell asleep. At one point his head slipped down and for an instant was on my shoulder. I carefully tried to push it off of my shoulder but accidentally woke him up. We giggled and he went back to sleep.
    I should add that the young man was on his way to Seattle to do a concert. His name was Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy, or XXXTENTACION. I wish there were a way that I could contact his grandma and mother about how well he handled that situation and what a positive impression it left with me. I was so saddened to hear that he had been murdered.

  • Let the lady dress how she wants after her cancer battle. Words only have whatever power you give to them. American needs to teach their staff common sense.

    • You want some common sense? Free speech comes with responsibilities. If you don’t understand that, then you don’t deserve the privilege.

    • Bravo. Yes. It’s just a word…if it was a racist sentiment used to out down a group of people, then go ahead and get mad, because I would be too…but it wasn’t. It was literally about a thing that everyone in the world has pretty much been touched by.

  • Well for once I agree with American. The woman was likely from the northeast where this kind of language is acceptable.

  • Rotten people get cancer too…glad she survived the horrible disease but being a cancer survivor doesnt mean you are a decent person. Wearing something like that shows a complete lack of respect for others as well as poor decision making.

  • Nothing odd here American Airline’s gate assistant told my wife “this is America speak English” won’t fly them ever again

  • I’m a breast cancer survivor. Cancer took my breasts but not my common sense or awareness of people around me. I don’t feel I have to broadcast my cancer on a shirt other than maybe a shirt from an event from the Cancer Society. This woman, obviously lacks a moral compass or did this intentionally to get compensated by the airline for her “hurt feelings”. Lastly, to the person that penned this article….you have done the same thing. You put a twist to the story to get people to read the story. Everybody has a price.

  • The gate attendant at American Airlines did nothing wrong! I’m so tired of people complaining about poor choices they made. Wearing a shirt with profanity on it is not appropriate. My mother died from breast cancer and I hate cancer too! The difference is I’m not going to wear something against the rules and then get offended when they are enforced! American you should stand with your employees!

  • Good for the gate agent. Reminds me of the story of the Emperor who wore invisible clothing. I guess when someone finally told the lady the truth it was talking to her.

  • Wouldn’t it have been better to have worn something that said “Thank God for a second chance at life. I beat cancer”? Something with positive words and class would’ve been nice.

  • Anything with the f-bomb displayed on it should be banned. I don’t care what it’s in front of, behind or if it’s sitting there by itself. American has a good policy. They adhered to it. Shame on that clickbait article title for acting like AA had committed some insensitive offense.

  • AA HORRIBLE AIRLINE , flight attendant ruin my Daughter and Son in Law their honeymoon, CREATING NIGHTMARE TRIP because false acussations about mask, inssults, lies, mistreated……NEVER , EVEN FOR FREE l will plan trip with AA…..

  • This is such a misleading headline. It should read “American Airlines Tells Cancer Survivor to Cover Offensive Sweater Celebrating Her Recovery “. Thank you American Airlines for not bowing to political correctness. Being a survivor doesn’t mean the laws of decent behavior no longer apply. My mother, who was also a cancer survivor, didn’t celebrate her recovery in such a way.

  • they are so worried about political awakeness that they can’t be expected to bother running a competent airline…never have of course

  • The only problems I can see here are a second employee continuing to harass her after she’d covered up and Corporate not sticking up for an employee following THEIR policy. If she had gotten on that plane with no employee saying anything and someone complained, the employees would still be in trouble for not following policy! I’m sorry but you have to stand behind your policies even in the case of a cancer patient. Now, should that second employee be looked into? Absolutely. If she covered up, why was she continuing to be harassed?

    I don’t personally find a problem with the shirt because words shouldn’t have such power over us but I accept a private company’s right to make their own rules and alter/refuse service to those who don’t follow them.

  • It may be a “good” message in her eyes but if she’s allowed to wear that then shouldn’t people be allowed to wear a “Fxxk the Police”, “Fxxk Biden”, “Fxxk Trump”, “Fxxk War”, etc? All of those messages and many more are “good”, “well intentioned” messages to somebody or else they wouldn’t be wearing the t-shirt. We either not allow any shirts with profanity or we allow all shirts with profanity. They made the right call.

  • Everyone got offended by my t-shirt that said “F**K Jesus Christ”. When they told me it was offensive I felt humiliated. I mean, I survived Catholic school and Sister Immaculata’s second grade. Twice!

  • The United States is letting kid say what gender they want to be before puberty but get a fended over a saying on a shirt that didn’t actually use the word fuck. This country is going to hell so I say FUCK American Air Lines

  • I agree.. offensive language is offensive It’s not acceptable and there’s rules to be followed if you don’t want to follow the rules then don’t fly.. The gate agents were following policy They did nothing inappropriate

  • Clickbait title! Purposely made to look like the airline acted outrageously when in fact nothing could be further from the truth! But I guess if the headline had said “Airline requires passenger to cover profanity-laced sweater”, few people would’ve clicked on it.

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