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Archive November 2020 XXI, No. 11

Diversity, Equality & Inclusion: Much More Than a Kind Gesture

A cultural connection with my surgeon meant everything to me.

India Marshall

India Marshall


POWERFUL CONNECTION India Marshall found a surgeon who immediately understood the importance of preserving her natural hair.

Let me tell you why Black patients should have access to more Black doctors. Last June, I underwent surgery to remove osteomata (benign tumors) from my forehead and a portion of my nose. I'd previously undergone surgery to have similar growths removed, but they had returned in locations where excision would be more challenging. Before undergoing the procedure, I consulted with several white male surgeons, who told me they would need to open an incision from ear to ear. I didn't feel comfortable with that option, especially because I was planning on getting married soon and didn't want the scars to ruin the day. My frustration mounted, and I decided to put off the surgery until after the wedding.

When I resumed my search for a surgeon, I noticed a new physician in town: Jewel Greywoode, MD, an otolaryngologist at Charlotte Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Associates. He's Black, which, honestly, was an initial draw. Here was a surgeon who looked like me, who I thought would understand my needs in a way the previous white surgeons could not.

My intuition proved correct — I felt an immediate connection with Dr. Greywoode. I told him what the other surgeons had recommended, and he said my hair would never grow back over such a severe incision. He instead offered a more minimally invasive approach — three small incisions behind my hairline that would be unseen after my hair grew back, which he assured me it would. I didn't have to tell him that preserving my hair was extremely important to me. He already knew it was a major concern because of his cultural competence.

I wear my hair completely natural. It's big and curly, so the night before my surgery, I washed and detangled it, and separated it into a couple braids around the area where Dr. Greywoode would be operating. In the pre-op bay on the day of the procedure, as I was speaking with Dr. Greywoode about his plans for the surgery, I offered to move more hair out of the way. He assured me I could leave it the way it was.

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