A dear friend of mine does something every month that I just adore. When she started with Rodan and Fields, she decided to use her business as a way to support adoption. It made me realize what I can do with my business with Young Living as well! So we decided to team up this round doing something a little different.
We have a sweet friend Shantelle who is a part of my Young Living team and has supported Laura through Rodan and Fields also. Shantelle has an incredible story in her fight of cancer that Laura and I are incredibly grateful that we can support her in. We will each be supporting her in giving part or all of our paychecks to her to support the cost of everything that this round of cancer entails.
So, next up is her story and then after that I will give you the ways that you can support.
Shantelle with her twins Sophia and Zachariah along with her hubby John-Mark.
written by her husband John-Mark
Shantelle has been a fighter for her whole life. When
she was 12 years old she entered the foster care system with her
siblings, where she stayed at a few homes, was separated from her
siblings, and eventually found a home with the Graham family. While
attending college she worked at Washington Mutual where she eventually
worked her way up to assistant manager. In 2006 Shantelle was diagnosed
with Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer, and after doing a strong regiment of
chemotherapy, was considered in “remission.” Soon after her first battle
with cancer she ran into an old friend from youth group, John-Mark
Carlson, who needed a money order at the bank, and walked out with her
phone number (good for him). Shantelle and John-Mark were married in
September of 2007 and were excited for the future.
Unfortunately, the future took a wrong turn when Shantelle was
diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma a second time in 2008. Her best
treatment option was a stem cell / bone marrow transplant. This was
difficult news to take, especially since the transplant was going to
leave Shantelle infertile. Knowing this, John-Mark and Shantelle,
decided to harvest and freeze embryos to give some hope to what seemed
like a hopeless situation. They were given the OK by doctors to try for
one month before treatment to harvest embryos. God’s hand was in the
process every step of the way, and they were overjoyed to see the nurse
amazed at how successful the extraction of embryos went.
After the embryo process, came the stem cell transplant. Shantelle
was to undergo a week long regiment of radiation everyday, along with
chemo for several days in a row. She made it 6 days before being checked
into the hospital for 17 days, where her stem cells were reintroduced
and she could begin a long healing process. This was by far the hardest
treatment she had ever had, and she was once again considered in
Sadly her remission only lasted for 9 months, and Shantelle and
John-Mark knew she was running out of treatment options. They had been
previously told her only option was a bone marrow transplant from a
donor, which had a 25 percent chance of survival. God had other plans.
Shantelle was directed towards a trial study for a new drug, that not
only could kill the cancer but not have as many side effects as chemo.
The study was at Stanford University, where Shantelle and John-Mark flew
down every three weeks for treatment for almost six months. Shantelle
was told that very rarely do people loose their hair from the treatment.
Well, Shantelle must be a rare breed, because she did lose her hair for
a third time. With hair loss also came health, because the treatment
was a wonderful blessing, and she’s been in remission from Hodgkin’s
since September of 2010.
Because of all her battles Shantelle does a CT scan every 6 months,
and in 2011 the doctors said they saw some “irregularities” with her
appendix and wanted to have it removed. After the surgery, Shantelle and
John-Mark were informed that when the doctors removed her appendix,
there was a tumor in her appendix that had ruptured the wall of her
appendix and released a “mucus” into her body cavity. They removed as
much mucus as they could during the procedure but there was a
possibility that it would continue to grow but they would continue to
monitor it by CT scan.
After Shantelle’s appendix removal she was given the green light by
her doctors to have kids! After being told by some fertility doctors
that she wouldn’t be able to carry a baby, Shantelle and John-Mark were
blessed to find a fertility doctor who had worked with many cancer
patients, and was confident that she could carry a baby herself. And in
2011 Shantelle became pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl! The whole
time they could see God’s hand in the process, it was amazing to see. On
January 23rd, 2012 Shantelle gave birth to Sophia Celeste Carlson and Zachariah John Carlson.
A little over three years past, with good health and growing kids.
In April of this year, Shantelle had some health concerns, which led to a
CT scan, where the doctors found that the mucus from her appendix was
growing again. She was diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP), a
rare condition characterized by the presence of mucin-producing tumors
(and the mucin) in the abdominal cavity. The only treatment is an
extensive surgery, referred to by some as the mother of all surgeries,
it can take 8-12 hours, and sometimes longer. Average time in the
hospital is 10 days with a recovery time of 4 to 6 months.
On June 16th Shantelle and John-Mark are planning to go to San Diego for this specialized surgery, they could use all your prayers.
You can follow their story here at their CaringBridge site where they will try to keep us all updated.
How We Can Help
There are 4 ways you can chose to help.
1) Pray - This family needs it oh so much.
2) Simply donate to their Go Fund Me account that was set up for them.
3) You can support through Laura's company, Rodan and Fields the skin care line. If you are unfamiliar with the company you might recognize their earlier
product; Proactiv. The Doctors have creative additional products that
target everything from fine lines, acne, dark spots, eczema and dark
circles. With all purchase that are made through her, 50% of the proceeds will go to supporting Shantelle in her fight with cancer. Email Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any product questions.
4) And finally, I am doing the same thing.
With my desire to use and learn about Young Living Essential Oils, it turning into a business for me. I am so thankful that the desire to teach about how to make your family healthier has given me the ability to support my friend and donate all the proceeds of my paycheck from the month of June to her and her family.
So here is how you can support her through me.
Young Living essential oils
If you are already on my team, anything you order, the proceeds I get will go to supporting her.
If you are not already using Young Living Essential Oils, you can sign up to get a premium starter kit.
Or you could get the Ningxia Red kit which is an incredible antioxidant drink or the thieves kit which has everything you need to replace the toxins in your home! From thieves cleaner, to thieves toothpaste and mouthwash! Thieves is an incredible oil that helps support your immune system that they have used to create an awesome line of all things you need to keep you healthy!
So if you want to join the team in starting a healthier life style and supporting Shantelle, let’s get started!
Here is how to sign up with
Step 1: Click here
to be taken to the sign up page. (This should open up in a new window
so you can refer back to this page to continue the instructions)
Step 2: Make sure “Member” (which is wholesale customer) is checked. This is the ONLY way to get
the 24%, purchase the Starter Kits, and have the opportunity to earn
free product and points through Essential Rewards. My number is already in the boxes, so you get to join my awesome team!
Step 3: Input all your personal information. This will include your
social security number for tax purposes. Talk to me about this if you
have concerns! Be sure to remember
your username, password and pin number for future reference. I don’t
suggest using your bank pin as this is your password when calling
Step 4: Select the “Premium Starter Kit” that you want for $150. This is the best
deal (you get the 11 oils and the diffuser shown above) and the kit I would recommend and purchased myself. I wish I could
get another! Or the ningxia red or thieves kit.
Step 5: I always say to explore your Starter Kit before signing up
for Essential Rewards. But us addicts, we love our rewards! This is how
you can earn free product, cheaper shipping rates and points to buy free
oils later on. For now, you can just click “No, thank you.”
Step 6: Confirm your enrollment by clicking “I Agree.”
Step 7: Almost done! Now that you’ve created your account this is
where you can checkout and purchase your Starter Kit or add more
products (you will get the 24% off in this order and any future order if
you stayed with Member not Retail Customer on the first page). Make
sure to complete
this process until you see confirmation.
Step 8: Wait impatiently by the door until your box of fun arrives!
We can’t wait for you to join our oily party!
Step 9: I contact you and do a little dance! And I am available for any and all questions!
From the bottom of my heart. Shantelle is such an incredible woman and everything in me wants to take a little burden off of her, even if it is just being able to help pay for the John-Mark's lost days of work and their hotel/flight bills.
8 years ago when my sister threw me a bridal shower she asked all the gals attending to give me a spice and a copy of their favorite recipe. And for the last 8 years I have religiously ONLY used this recipe for my pie crust, this pastry blender, and this pastry cloth that Lynne Westphal gave to me.
Lynne was the wife of my basketball coach at Point Loma Nazarene University. She was the one who offered up her lovely peaceful home to me during the week before my wedding in San Diego and fed me all of her delicious healthy food. It was such a respite.
And I wouldn't have met her if my high school coach Roger Tate would not have pushed me all 4 years to be able to play basketball in college.
Lynne also gave me the recipe for Scotch Pie. I adapted it over the years and turned it into just sprinkling cinnamon sugar over the pie crust scraps and baking them! But every time I make them I think of her.
So 3 years later when I started making pot pies, I started using the pie dish she bought for me also.
As I started to make the rest of my pot pie for dinner, I thought of JoAnn Johnson, whom I got the pot pie recipe from.
I met JoAnn at church up here in Tacoma, WA and really got to know her and her amazing cooking over the years as we ate together on a weekly basis in our community group.
She also is the one whom now that we are in different community groups walks with me once a week and shares life with me as a sweet sister in Christ.
As I made the pot pie, I grinned as I grabbed the bag of frozen veggies that my sweet friend Laura Euler gave me right before the Air Force moved her. Another person I adore was taking part of our dinner and didn't even know it! I still have your baggie clip friend!
As I looked at my dinner I also noticed that the dressing on my salad was one that I took from another friend Kristen Robbins.
She invited us over for dinner one night and all we had to do was bring salad. So I decided to be suzy home maker and make my own dressing. Welp the salt got a little crazy and lets just say that she had made this dressing and we ended up using it instead.
And now it is the salad dressing that Thomas and I use on a daily basis.
There are the glasses curtsy of Thomas' brother Christian. One was from his Australian adventure and the other from his bachelor party.
And then of course the Apple Cider was pressed in the real wooden press that a co-workers uncle had that has been in their family for ages.
And the apples were from our tree that we rent every year at the Curran Apple Orchard in University Place, WA, which we would not have known about had it not been for Randi Samples doing and then telling us about.
Needless to say, dinner tonight made me so incredibly thankful for not only every person I mentioned above, but every single friend I have, because you all have had a very profound impact on my life. Even if only for a second, I can guarantee that I have a memory of you and it comes up at the most random times and makes me thankful.
And yes, as I was thinking about this post, all I could think of was, "If you give a mouse a cookie." But more along the lines of, "If you give Mica some friends, she will forever be thankful."
So Lynna, JoAnn, Tate, Laura, Kristen, Christian, Lana, and Randi…. Thank you for joining us for dinner tonight. :)
I realized that I have not yet written anything about the weeks after
miscarrying and that is just as unknown as the waiting and the actual
After I miscarried, I ended up continuing my cycle for a full week. The thing I was not expecting was to continue spotting for another 2.5 weeks on top of that. I was still having crampy feelings and although the miscarrying process itself went rather smoothly, I was still a little nervous that there was still tissue in my uterus. That was the last thing that I wanted because of the chance of infection and endometriosis hindering our ability for future babies!
So at about 2 weeks of cramping and bleeding, I finally called the nurse. Keep in mind at no point did I ever have any of the symptoms of tissue still being there (dizziness, excess bleeding, intense pain), but I wanted to make sure! So she said that she wanted me to come in for blood work to see that my HCG levels were coming down appropriately (they needed to be below 5). She assured me that cramping was normal, my uterus did have to shrink back. We made an appointment, but it was for 3 weeks away because my DR was on vacation. Naturally.
So I went in that day, gave some blood, and waited for my call back. When they didn't call back the next day, I called them. When I finally got the call back, my HCG was at 36, so they asked that I come back in 2 weeks to test again. This was still before my appointment on the 3rd. I asked her again because I was still bleeding at this point, how I would know if I had any excess tissue. She told me that I would be doubled over in pain if it had been 3.5 weeks already. And of course I stopped spotting the next day.
I went in 2 weeks later and my HCG had gone down to 6. I was good to go and cancelled my appointment because I was feeling fine.
What to Expect:
The nurse said I could spot all the way up until my next cycle. I did not, but it is normal.
Your uterus does have to go back down just like after giving birth. Even if it is the size of a grapefruit not a 8 lb baby (lets be real, mine will be WAY bigger then 8 lbs!)
There will be funny pains/twinges. Just like after giving birth.
Your hormones will be WAY off and you will have blemishes for weeks! Bummer.
Each and every one person is different in who quickly they heal physically and emotional, so be aware of that.
I finally went into my IVF Dr after I started my cycle again 6 weeks after I miscarried. Everything looked perfect from miscarrying and for starting up our next round of IVF.
We missed the end of Feb-Mar window, so we will be doing the next round at the end of Mar-Apr.
But we are cleared! And I am on birth control, so here we go ROUND 3!!!
The other day I was texting a friend of mine and can I just
tell you how awesome it is to have friends that you can text random questions
too and they answer without the “why?” question? Cause let me tell you, I
always ask why. But this sweet friend did not. So when I asked her, “what are
your hopes and dreams in life? Your bucket list?” I got some beautiful answers.
And they made me love her more because I got to know her deeper.
But what really got me was the next day when she asked me
back, “what are your hopes and dreams?” Man. It felt like a trick question. If
you would have asked me a year ago, I would have given you my huge list. In
fact, back in 2013 I wrote my bucket list out for you all. But now?
Now all I want is to live a simple life. A simple life where
I love the people around me the best way I know how. Like Jesus. I want to have
some children whom I love and who I can teach to love and serve. And I still want
to travel. I want to travel and take my children to places where they can see
that people are in need. But ultimately? I just want to love the people around me.
It feels nice to get rid of that list. Don’t get me wrong, I
still want to visit Greece, visit the Amish, and go sky diving, but if I die
before that happens? That is just fine. Because I want to live well. I want to
not be the mom who is so busy she doesn’t have time for her kids unless it is
I am still figuring out how to live an unscheduled life and
not feel like it is wasted, but I can actually do things last minute. I haven’t
been able to do that since high school. And it feels darn good.
Really I can thank In Vitro for that. Having months where
you cannot schedule anything has been amazing. I guess you can say that what
God has taught me through IVF has not only been patience and His timing, but also
how to slow down.
I know this is a little late in coming, but between not really knowing how long the miscarrying would actually take, a perfectly timed vacation in So Cal, and then getting back into the swing of life back here in WA.... Well, here you are now.
****I kept the entire blog clean with the exception of the section with THE PHYSICAL title. So make sure to skip that section if you don't want to know those details because I spared no detail.****
And it is so long, that I didn't proof it, so I am sorry if it is not perfect grammar wise.
The Perfect Timing
As we were in the waiting period of already seeing 2 ultrasounds of each one of the little ones hearts not beating, we approached the holidays. We decided that after our final ultrasound on Sunday Dec 21st, we were still going to go to So Cal for Christmas with my family.
So we flew out on Monday morning. Still no hint of any signs of anything happening physically.
On Tues Dec 23rd, everything started. It started off slowly at first, but then the evening of Christmas Eve, when we were at my sisters house for dinner, the majority of the miscarrying happened.
I say it was perfect timing because of these reasons:
We were with my family in my sisters house where I felt extremely comfortable.
It was Christmas Eve, so there was some agenda that we didn't cancel, that kept Thomas very distracted. It also kept me distracted which was great.
It helped keep the freaking out and the physical pain at bay.
We were with family who all understood and didn't give us pity. It was perfectly normal and needed.
I know it was over Christmas, but we don't think of it that way. It was simply perfect timing for God to place us there smack dab in the middle of exactly what we needed, even though we didn't know it.
There has been so much advice the 2 weeks between the stopping of the first heart beat and the actual event of me miscarrying.
This was the best advice I got:
It will be more like labor, where you cramp over time.
Create a way to remember them.
Take pictures of the littles when you miscarry them
Talk ahead of time what you want to do with the little ones
Stay hydrated and keep your electrolytes up.
My advice in addition to this is:
Like real labor, be flexible. Thomas and I talked about burying them and we weren't able too. And we talked through it and it was ok.
Talk with your partner through all of it. It is hard, but Thomas and i learned quickly that we grieve VERY differently. Talk through it.
Bring lots of the biggest pads you can find where every you are always. You will need them spare of the moment. Trust me.
Also bring an extra pair of jeans. You may not need them, but better to be safe then sorry.
Go to that bathroom way more often then you think so you don't leak!
Know that it might be messy, so you will need lots of toilet paper, soap, and wet wipes. All things I never thought of.
****For those of you who don't want to read the actual physical happenings, skip down to the next Emotions part. I am going to be completely honest and a little bit graphic here.****
The ultimate goal was to allowing my body to do what it needs to do and pray that infection did not set in. My prayer from the second that there was no heart beats was that my body would be able to do everything on it's own and that I would not have to go to the doctor for any reason. mainly because I wanted to know that these littles were in fact no longer living and that there would be no mistake of a doctor putting something in my body that would stop life. That was just me though.
So what actually happened, was exactly 1 week after the second little ones heart stopped beating, my body kicked it into gear.
Day 1: I started bleeding like a regular cycle. I had decided to use only pads and not tampons because I wanted everything to come out so that I would have less of a risk of infection.
Day 2 (Christmas Eve): The morning was fine. At the end of shopping with my mom, I started cramping and just wanted to be home and not running around just in case. We got to my sisters house at about 3 so that we could put the ham in the oven. I helped with a few things, but then at about 4, things got real. I went into the bathroom because I felt lots of cramping. I sat on the toilet and the pad was soaked with blood and covered with blood clots.
Can I just tell you that you will have no control over your body? When I sat on the toilet and relaxed my body, clots just fell out. So I waited a moment and then hobbled a few steps to the door to call for Thomas, because I knew this was the start of it all. I didn't have anything to change into and so I needed help. My first mistake of the night cost me my first pair of jeans. Pair #1 - down.
Now I had blood clots from my uterus, but I also had the entire placenta and the babies that I had to pass. With this comes a lot of blood and chunks. It sounds gross and it is, but I needed to get all of this out of my system because if any of it stays, it could cause an infection and endometriosis (a thickening of the uterus essentially). So I wanted to see everything come out.
So Thomas and my sister Alyssa we coming in and out of the bathroom as I bogarted the single bathroom in the house for most of the night. Thomas came in to morally support me, talk through what was going on, and help get me anything I needed. I feel like it is a lot like labor in that if you don't write it down right away, you will forget what happened when!
Alyssa was getting me new pants and undies as I just sat there allowing things to just fall out. Honestly it was just weird. I don't get grossed out easily although I can see how many people would during this process!
Thomas and I had talked about burying our little guys, and after sitting on the toilet for a while, I realized that tons of stuff fell out into the toilet and it was just a red swirling mess. We came to the decision that we were not going to dig through the toilet because we knew they were already in heaven and it would just be symbolic to bury them. So we prayed about it and knew that unless it was on the pad or on the toilet paper when I wiped, our little ones would not be buried. It is decisions like this that need to be talked through so that everyone is on the same page and people don't get upset later. Alyssa came in later and offered an extra ladle, but at that point we had already made the decision and lots of major chunks had already been flushed.
I hadn't thought of it, but I saw dark read blood clots, fresh red blood clots, fresh red placenta where you could actually see the design where it was attached to the uterine wall. It was seriously beautiful. I don't believe I ever saw our little babies.They were each just slightly smaller then an inch long and they looked like little humans at that point. I never saw anything like that, although I think it would have been incredible and way harder then I imagined all at once.
As I went through this whole process, yes I was uncomfortable. I don't ever think I was in labor type pain, but there was definitely some very intense cramps. Some so bad, I went into the bathroom simply so I could just sit on the toilet, relax my body, and cry. However that only happened for about 5 minutes. The rest of the time was totally fine. It could have been that I was also very distracted by eating dinner, opening presents, and trying not to laugh so I could keep all my core muscles tense and not leaking anything.
As we sat down for dinner, I was actually feeling really good. I had already gone through a few different sitting on the toilet for a while episodes and I was ready to go. I even sat down long enough to eat a plate and a half! This was awesome because I know my electrolytes/salt intake was doing good. I had been downing water all day, so I was feeling good about hydration as well. I was feeling so confident that I sat there a little longer. I started to get nervous and stood up to go check on everything. And then there was a trickle down my leg. And pair #2 of jeans - down.
Physically, the whole night was focusing on getting to the bathroom quick enough, not laughing so as not to leak, and sitting on the toilet a ton.
Day 3: Christmas Day there was cramping again that afternoon, with more blood clots, but nothing like the night before. I though I was done with the cramps though, so additional clots were a surprise. I went to the store with my sister Lindy and my mom. Mistake #3. pair #3 of jeans down. Really wish I had brought another pair with me in the car. Or just stayed closer to home. Well, you live and learn.
Day 4: The 26th, I was scared that I would get cramps again at night and I was teaching a class! God was nice and switched them to earlier that day for me though :)
The night as a whole was a perfect combination of being distracted and
also being able to mourn and know that it was final. I know Thomas had
the hardest time with actually letting go after they told us, but with me still not having miscarried. It was a night of final good byes, which we both needed.
I already wrote about the feelings of the in between of miscarrying. But there are also other emotions when you are thinking about leading up to it and then during it.
For instance we had the decision of what to do with the little ones when they came out. Well you can't flush them and you certainly can't trash them. Well we couldn't, so we decided to bury them. When we were actually in the middle of it all though, we had to make the decision to just let them go and that had it's own set of emotions. And we really are fine with it.
And then there is the trying to hold hope. To me that was the hardest part to watch Thomas go through. He was holding on so much hope that maybe just maybe it wasn't true, where as I could feel it in my body that life had already ceased to exist.
So overall, I think the emotions took the back seat that night and it was something we processed and talked about randomly over the last few weeks. I keep checking in on Thomas to see how he is and talk through what we have each processed.
But the actual night, I did feel a complete peace of letting them go, knowing we would see both of them again in heaven. It is a glorious promise we have.
I seriously cannot count the number of blessing that Thomas and I have experiences during this time. But I will try with the ones that stuck out the most.
My mom brought me jeans for a project that ended 2 years ago. And I needed 3 of the 4 pairs of jeans. It was perfect.
This brought me closer to EVERY single one of my siblings and I had amazing talks with each one. Priceless.
We now know we CAN get pregnant!
There are thousands of you praying for us. I still can't believe it. Over 2600 people read our From A Family Of 4 Back To Just 2 post. And to know that so many of you are praying for us? Seriously an army of people cheering us on. Unbelievable.
We were with my family and distracted when we needed to be.
I was with my sister in the perfect house to physically go through that. God knew. (because they literally had moved in a week earlier)
We were with my family, who all knew, who all understood, whom I did not have to feel guilty for not being fully present.
Not one of you ever gave us pity. Huge.
We got to spend 2 weeks with people we love, which we wouldn't have been able to do had I been on bedrest.
That we quickly realized that we grieve differently and could encourage each other through it.
Being able to know that even if I never understand it, we serve a God who has a plan and who has been praised through all of this.
So the big question is, what is next for us.
Well the DR cleared us to go round 3 for IVF.
He was very encouraging. He said we CAN get pregnant. That bleeding happens, but it had nothing to do with me being able or not able to carry children.
Thomas and I have already started our pre pregnancy oils and supplements. These future kiddos of ours only get the best.
So Round 3 will start at the end of Feb with extraction in March if all goes well.
Goodbye little 1 and little 2!
We love you and we can't wait to meet you someday in Heaven.
Seriously I cannot thank each and everyone of you for your words, your hugs, your tears, and just for just being exactly what we needed when we needed it. You all are an incredible community coming up right beside us when we need it the most.
We love you and you mean more to us then you could ever imagine.
Since we all know that I have only ever attempted 1 serious New Years Resolution, (because it was a fun, do 52 Things on Pinterest resolution), I am not going to make a resolution again this year. And because I am a rebel and I don't like doing things in the same time frame as everyone else.
So this is what I have on the plate this year.
My goals not resolutions, that way if I don't complete them, I don't beat myself up.
1. Be kinder to people
I just want to focus on it.
2. Discover who Jesus is to me
I started making a list of the names and character traits that resonate with me.
I want to learn more.
3. Slow down life
With round 3 of IVF happening, this year was not what we expected.
So I am being intentional about doing life slowly and less stress filled.
4. Hit Silver this year
Many of you know that I started using oils and really got into them this last year.
What many of you don't know, is that it turned into a side business.
I never want to be "THAT" person who is push. I simply want to share and teach about oils, a more natural way to maintain our health.
And my next level in the company is Silver.
So if you are interested in oils, and you are interested in teaching people about oils, and you are interested in a way to make a bit of income on the side? Hit me up.