Marilyn Shannon died from cancer on May 17, 2020, but her spirit lives on in her work, and in the spiritual kinship forged with the countless women and couples who turned to her book for help in their struggles with fertility.
“The first thing you need to do when you get home is order Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition, by Marilyn Shannon,” said my doctor.
When I was a 24-year-old newlywed fumbling in the darkness of infertility, Marilyn Shannon’s groundbreaking book, Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition, was a shining glimmer of hope. I did just as my doctor had instructed on the first day I had an infertility consultation with him, and ordered it the minute I got home. As soon as the book arrived, I devoured it; to this day, I have my dog-eared, marked-up, original copy. As recommended by my doctor, I was also quick to order the vitamin supplement Marilyn had helped develop—specifically formulated to support a woman’s reproductive cycle—and began taking them the day they arrived.
I knew better than to pin all of my fertility hopes on a single book, yet I found FCN so well-researched and well-written, that it seemed highly prudent to follow Marilyn’s guidance. I will never forget reading her description of a “luteal phase defect,” and the “a-ha!” moment that accompanied it; there, finally, was a name for all of the odd little idiosyncrasies of my cycle that accompanied our struggle to conceive—and not only that, but there were also common sense, research-backed, natural reasons and solutions for it.
As I began incorporating the diet and lifestyle changes recommended in FCN, and as I began taking the recommended supplements, I noticed a gradual change in my health and well-being. The results weren’t overnight—nor does Marilyn ever claim that they will be—but even my next period was far less painful than any I could recall for a long time.
Months later, with the addition of other fertility support, we were eventually able to overcome our primary infertility. I firmly believe that without Marilyn’s work—truly, her lifelong devotion to women’s health—I may not have my two beautiful children. To this day, I still take the supplements Marilyn helped to develop—which I believe have aided my health in countless ways—and refer to FCN constantly in my work as a fertility awareness instructor and as assistant editor here at Natural Womanhood.
The recently released 5th edition of Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition was a true labor of love for Marilyn—it is a total rewrite of the original, which she completed in 2019 while undergoing treatment for the rare abdominal cancer which claimed her life this past Sunday. It didn’t take long after news of her death broke for dozens of testimonies across social media to come pouring in, many of which attributed FCN (the first edition of which was published in 1990) to helping them overcome infertility. Truly, Marilyn’s work has not only improved the health of countless women and couples, but it has also helped to usher in so many longed-for, unique new souls for the past 30 years—would that we all could leave behind such a beautiful legacy!
Marilyn will be sorely missed by everyone whom her work touched, and her absence is keenly felt by all of us in the fertility awareness and natural family planning community. Her work epitomizes the very best of our movement—the part that empowers couples, and women especially, to view their fertility as a gift, to be cultivated and appreciated as an integral part of their overall health. We will continue to carry this message on in her stead, forever grateful for the high bar set by her passion and devotion in caring for the health and wellbeing of others.
Please read Marilyn’s official obituary here: https://www.divinemercyfuneralhome.com/obituary/Marilyn-Shannon
Memorial contributions may be made to Marilyn’s local pregnancy resource center, the Women’s Care Center, Fort Wayne.