Just before Christmas in December 2007, Shirley McDermott of Columbus, Ohio, was diagnosed with colon cancer. A former hospital employee, the self-employed administrative sales director for Mary Kay Inc., Shirley and her husband Frank were faced with a decision thousands of Americans are forced to make every day. It was a combination of her faith and family history with cancer that led Shirley to the Hallelujah Diet.
Finding a Plant-Based Diet
By the time Shirley finally went to the hospital, she was admitted and told that the softball-sized tumor in her colon needed to be removed immediately. Doctors soon realized the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes as well. Surgery was performed right away and Shirley then returned home for a long recovery. A few weeks later, a pathology report came back quite high and doctors advised that she undergo chemotherapy.
Shirley's sister had passed away in 1992 from an inflammatory breast cancer that at the time, was quite rare. Having seen what the chemotherapy had done to her sister, she knew that she did not want that same course.
"I knew that I didn't want to go through all of that," said Shirley. "So I prayed and prayed and prayed."
It was a niece, the daughter of the sister who she had lost to breast cancer, who sent Shirley the information on an eating plan very similar to the Hallelujah Diet. This niece told her to wait before going through with the chemotherapy. Crediting her strong faith in God, Shirley and her husband Frank, who recently celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary, continued to pray and research and were eventually led to a chiropractor who practices natural medicine. It was from him that they first heard of the Hallelujah Diet. He sat them down, gave them the Hallelujah Diet website and told them just what to do.
"He sent me directly to the library to check out the Hallelujah Diet books and provided me with a packet that told me exactly what to do each day," she said. "I kept thinking 'how can this be so simple?'"
From there, Shirley called and canceled all future oncology appointments. Having been giving an estimate of a 2 to 3 percent success rate with chemotherapy, saying no was easy, according to Shirley. She instead bought carrot juice and Barley Max, purchased a juicer and started eating a primarily raw, plant-based diet. Just two months later she returned for a checkup.
"The marker and the blood work were both perfect," she recalled. "And I thanked God for that. I think that my body was beginning to heal already from surgery and the juices continued to help. If there were any cancer cells still left though, they went away."
It's All in the Family
It didn't take long for many of her family members to catch on and take part in the Genesis 1:29 diet as well. Without even knowing she was acting as a health minister, Shirley was already spreading the word among family and friends, parishioners and her Mary Kay customers through her own story. Before starting the Hallelujah Diet, her husband Frank had been taking 14 medications, living with allergies and taking aspirin daily. All of that ended once he began fueling his body with the natural, whole foods of the earth. As a bonus, he even lost 50 pounds along the way.
"Though the doctors kind of argued with us, we just continued," she said. "And it has definitely made a difference. It's incredible."
Shirley's adult daughter Shelly also adopted the Hallelujah Diet and has since recovered from many of the health complications she was previously living with, including irritable bowel syndrome, weight gain, migraines and the inability to fully recover from preeclampsia after having her son. Shirley's 13-year-old grandson and 17-year-old granddaughter are also on the Hallelujah Diet.
Spreading the Word
In 2012, Shirley's husband encouraged her to complete the Health Minister Training Online to become a health minister. Since then she - and more recently her husband as well - have been hosting monthly potlucks for neighbors, friends and other community members interested in the Hallelujah Diet. Hosted at their local church or in Shirley and Frank's home, these potlucks are places to share food and ideas. She's even inspired many of her Mary Kay customers to join the potlucks and the Hallelujah Diet lifestyle.
"I believe that God led me to this way to heal and I stayed committed to that," said Shirley. "I feel as though He is using me to share the message and now everything is just living proof. The more I learn...how can I not share it?"
"Testimonials from other Hallelujah Diet users kept me strong."
The more that she does learn about cooking and nutrition, the easier it becomes, she explained. This past December marked nine years since Shirley's surgery. She is now 68, continues to eat a plant-based diet and feels great.
"I thank God for this whole lifestyle change and I just want to share it," she said. "Reading the testimonials from Hallelujah Diet, that's what got me through. That's what made me strong."
It's individuals such as Shirley who have helped spread the powerful message that the body is in fact a miraculous, self-healing being. Upwards of 10,000 people have been through the health minister training, including people from all 50 states, from the five provinces of Canada and from 50 different countries.
"They were instrumental in moving the message forward in the churches and in their local communities," said Hallelujah Diet CEO and President Paul Malkmus. "Hallelujah Diet as a whole began as a grassroots movement that gained momentum as the Health Ministers started to share this life-changing message."