The Legacy of a Gifted Educator

For Blogby Janet Simpson Benvenuti

Last week I learned that Lorraine Ward, one of my son’s teachers, had passed away. From the fourth through eighth grade, he was fortunate to attend the Fenn, an all-male middle school that encourages boys to explore academic, athletic and artistic activities outside their comfort zone and develop a worldview that is respectful, empathetic and loving. Brilliant and erudite, Lorraine left an academic position at Wellesley College to help her husband, the headmaster, build an exceptional academic program. At Fenn, she loved, mentored and supported hundreds of students as if they were one of her own three sons while educating parents in how to raise competent and caring young men.

As I stood with dozens in the cold for more than two hours to attend her wake, I reflected on the powerful influence a single teacher or educator can have on hundreds of lives and generations of families. Even while on leave for cancer treatment and the ten year battle that followed, Lorraine continued to lead by example and through her prodigious writing, penning an Op-Ed in the New York Times, championing the benefits of single sex education. Among her inspiring messages and conversations with parents and faculty, she said:

“Let’s let our boys be young and unencumbered for as long as we can, to promise them that no matter where they land academically, socially, artistically, or on the playing field, they are loved and cherished beyond words, that this is the time in their lives to love and enjoy themselves and their friends fully, to feel each day to be one worth living no matter what the challenges or disappointments, to burden them less with our own need for a certain kind of success for them. They will not disappoint us in the long run, I can assure you. And what you get in return is more than you could ever hope for.”

In a world full of toxic cultural messages for boys, she was truly a leader among men. Thank you, Lorraine. Rest in peace.

c Circle of Life Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

Walk, Climb or Cycle for a Cause

by Janet Simpson Benvenuti

gu2201[1]An important part of our mission at Circle of Life Partners is to support the many non-profits that provide family services or support research toward finding a cure for diseases that impact seniors and their families. Warm weather brings countless opportunities to run, walk, cycle and raise money for a cause. Join us.

Here are a few upcoming events to inspire you.

April 1st is National Walking Day, sponsored by the American Heart Association

Team up and support the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life or Make Strides Against Breast Cancer.

Walk to support the American Lung Association by joining the Lung Force Walk or the vertical road race, climbing stairs with friends to support the Fight for Air Climb.

Does someone you know have arthritis? Walk to support the Arthritis Foundation and its mission to find a cure.

Step Out and Walk to Stop Diabetes or cycle with the Tour de Cure sponsored by the American Diabetes Association.

Post your favorite walks, runs or cycling fundraisers on our Facebook or LinkedIn Group. Together, let’s continue to improve the lives of our families, neighbors and friends.

c Circle of Life Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

Of Mice and Women: His and Her Healthcare

Lab Miceby Janet Simpson Benvenuti

What do mice have to do with men and women’s health? It turns out, nearly everything.

Here are a few surprising facts.

  • Most medical research begins in laboratories using mice. Until 20 years ago, researchers used only male mice, finding the hormonal cycles of female mice an ‘unnecessary’ complication in experimental design.
  • Despite laws today that require all government-funded research to include females in animal and human studies, the sex of the animals is not often stated in published results.
  • Further, when clinical trials begin, researchers frequently do not enroll adequate numbers of women or, when they do, they fail to report data separately by sex.

Why does sex matter? Because many diseases, medications, and medical devices impact men and women differently. Here are just a few examples.

Perhaps you saw the report filed by Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes about Ambien, a commonly prescribed medication, that found women need half the dosing typically recommended by their physicians. Do other drugs need to be adjusted? Most likely, we just don’t know which ones.

Perhaps you know that more women die each year from lung cancer than from breast, ovarian and uterine cancers combined, and that nonsmoking women are three times more likely than nonsmoking men to get lung cancer. We still don’t know why.

Perhaps you  watched Dr. Johnson’s TED talk, where she explained sex differences in heart disease and depression, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease and how attention to sex differences in medical research that is already funded and underway will benefit both men AND women’s health.

What does this mean for you and your family?

Make it a habit to ask your physicians if the treatment, diagnostic tests, or medications being prescribed work differently for women and men. They may not know the answer when you ask, but the question may prompt them to find out.

Read “Why Women’s Health Can’t Wait” written by the Connor’s Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology. Join their Call to Action to hold federal agencies, medical device and pharmaceutical researchers accountable for how their studies address sex.

Consider supporting the work of Dr. Johnson and her colleagues, tireless advocates for Women’s Health, as they work with Congress and leading research institutions to address this issue.

Collectively, we can improve the health of our mothers and grandmothers, sisters and daughters as well as the men in our lives by insisting that the science behind health care accounts for sex differences.

Who knew that mice were so important to our health and well-being?

© 2014 Circle of Life Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.