From respect to perspectives:  Men talk about women's health and why it's important.

From respect to perspectives: Men talk about women's health and why it's important.

It is eternally, tiredly and jokingly stated that women really do not need to be understood…  just loved.  But nothing could be farther than the truth according to Hamilton Loeb and Irving Tragen; especially when it comes to women and their health – respect women and their health.

So why should women’s health be important to men? For the same reason that men’s health should be important to women.  For Irving and Hamilton, there is just a symbiotic relationship between men’s and women’s health.    Both having dealt with the health of the women in their lives at some point, the complexity of the illnesses around them made them start paying attention to women’s health issues.

“Women’s health is about respect; it’s about caring enough to try and explain to each other what’s happening”.  It’s about two perspectives; two totally different worlds in which women’s health research will be the answer to diagnosing, treating and preventing women’s health-related issues.

Two of Howell’s Board Members share a window into their thoughts on women’s health.

The Women’s Perspective Has a Lot to Offer! 

“I’ve always had women in my life”, comments Hamilton Loeb, a native Chicagoan with a huge and proud smile (as any Chicagoan would).  Hamilton joined the insurance business his family had started in Chicago in 1902 and worked there until he retired in 1991.  Keeping relationships alive was the name of the game for him.  He managed the Sears account until the day he retired.  But most importantly for Hamilton, giving back has been about the relationship with his community; doing so today through the Howell Foundation.

Recognized by his involvement in the Chicago community, and a proud father of three girls, he mentions that women’s health has been an issue in his family.  “My wife had breast cancer, one of my daughters had breast cancer, another daughter has ulcerated colitis, and all are survivors.  The history of breast cancer in our family motivated my other daughter to have a double mastectomy.  The doctors felt they would not be able to diagnose the cancer in her case.  This, of course, was a number of years ago.  In addition one of my daughters suffered from Anorexia.  She got through it and today she is a research scientist!  So, as you can see, women’s health has been a big part of my life.  And it has been a challenge!”

Dr. Howell has played an important role in his life.   He met her when he moved to San Diego.   “I can talk to her about anything and get a response that I would not get from others.  She is a remarkable woman – an icon and an American treasure.  With my family background, it was natural that I gravitated toward the Howell Foundation,” he comments.

When asked what advice he would he give other men about women, Hamilton started talking how he learned from living in a household of women during the feminist revolution.  “I joke, but it’s true, I was raised by my three daughters.  I witnessed their growing up in a fast changing world, in academia, business, community endeavors, and in government. And I learned so much from my wife, Estelle, a marriage of unconditional love. I am not in the habit of giving men advice about women, but I will say this:  Women’s health issues affect us all.  Women need our support. Help in any way you can.  What better place to start than The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research”.

The Perfect Partner. 

Irving Tragen, a native Californian who spent his life working in and around Latin America as a Foreign Service Member got introduced to women’s health and the impact it could potentially have early in his life. After suffering from scarlet fever, Irving lost the majority of his hearing when he was 4.  He spent his life understanding and learning about life by reading lips, and a combination of what he could read and actually hear.

But falling for Ele Dodson did not take much lip reading.  Irving met her in college.  After thinking that he probably would not get a dance out of her (both loved to dance) much less a date, he got proven wrong when both became good friends.  At the time, she was engaged to another fellow.  He traveled; and as so often happens, he went one way, she another — towards Irving’s way!  And the rest is history; a 57 year-long history.  “The depth of our relationship was very special” he comments, and smiles.

He met Dr. Howell when he moved to San Diego from Hanford to seek better care for Ele.  He suspects she had a stroke, but wasn’t really sure.  What he knew for a fact is that she was not the same afterwards.  When her health deteriorated, Dr. Howell was there to support Irving.  Her insights on women’s health helped him understand Ellie’s health.

So what does women’s health mean to Irving? “It’s about maintaining a partnership with that critically important person in every man’s life.  It is essential that we do the specialized research needed to better understand the difference between my health patterns, and a women’s health patterns.  My wife’s experience was very unique with a set of very specialized issues that I don’t think were addressed”.

Women and Generations 

So somewhere along the conversation we got lost in the true meaning of a relationship; respect being the true value of what made each of their connections strong.  Irving and Hamilton both agree: women’s health today is based on understanding that other side of the coin has a face.   It began with respecting the fact that all men and women are NOT created equal, and as time passed and age set in, it moved towards trying to understand the difference between men’s and women’s health.

“It took us as a society some time before we started taking a look at how different men and women are” comments Tragen.   “The Foundation gives us the basis upon which to reshape our thinking before a problem occurs.  When I listen to many of the lectures, I look back now at the things that I could have done differently  to take care of Ele, and how it ties in with my own experience.  I think if I only knew, I would have reacted different.  The Howell Lectures get me to focus on what the other half experiences”, he concludes.

And at that point, I just HAD to ask Irving: what advice would you give other men about women?  “You cherish them.  From my stand point, I would have to say understand where they come from, how they think why they think the way they do, how it relates to what you as a man think, and find the common ground in which both of you come together.  And health has so much to do with it”.

Hamilton is short, sweet and to the point when he adds: “Respect is the heart of all and any relationship; including the respect for the health of the women in your life”.

What is true is that we have moved from the era of asking our husbands and fathers for permission, to actually partnering in those responsibilities that just 20 years ago were hard to partake in.   Both men agree that women play such an important role in society; a role that really wasn’t expected a generation ago.  And to that extent, women’s health is also about the generation we live in today, where learning about gender differences is not enough; learning about, and showing respect for the health differences will, for sure, Keep the Women We Love Healthy.

And with this, I sign off; being grateful for the opportunity I had to learn about women’s health from a man’s perspective!  Thank you gentlemen; our time together was a true pleasure!

About the Doris A. Howell Foundation:

The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research is committed to keeping the women we love healthy, advancing women’s health through research and educating women to be catalysts for improving family health in the community.

The organization does so by funding scholarships to scientists researching issues affecting women’s health; providing a forum for medical experts, scientists, doctors, researchers, and authors to convey the timely information on topics relevant to women’s health and the health. of their families through its Lecture and Evening Series, and by funding research initiatives that will create women’s health awareness and advocacy in the community.

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