A high-profile believer's 'amazing' cancer recovery: God is (not) in the details


That's how I'd describe the Dallas Morning News' Sunday front-page profile of Bekki Nill, wife of Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill.

Frustrating because the story comes so close — oh, so close — to explaining the role of faith in Nill's "amazing" cancer recovery. 

But ultimately, holy ghosts end up haunting the in-depth feature.

The first clues that religion is, or should be, a major angle in this story come right at the top:

In the nearly three years since she came to North Texas, Bekki Nill has seen two of her kids graduate from college, one get engaged and her husband's career flourish.
And she became a grandmother!
"Amazing things," she said.
Blessings, truly, and somewhat newsworthy because Bekki's husband is Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill, architect of one of this NHL season's most improved teams.
But more so because Bekki, 55, is nearing the fifth anniversary of being diagnosed with incurable cancer and told she had two months to live.
Would anyone blame her if she quietly focused on prolonging her life while privately cherishing these milestones? Instead, she openly discusses her cancer fight while becoming a guiding light within the Stars' organization -- and an inspiration to many outside of it.
"The way she lives her life probably allows me to do this," Jim said last Monday, mere hours after acquiring Calgary's Kris Russell before the NHL trade deadline. "She doesn't put herself first in anything, though she probably should at times."

It's impossible to read that opening and not suspect strongly that there's more at play here than a positive outlook on Bekki Nill's part. All the signposts point to Nill being a woman of faith. Strong faith. 

But does the Morning News' story reflect that?

Sort of.

In the middle of the piece, the writer drops in this humdinger of a quote:

"It's all in God's timing," Bekki said.

OK, tell me more. The problem is, the Morning News really doesn't.

Granted, readers learn that Bekki Nill leads a women's Bible study and has an unidentified "church congregation," presumably a Christian one. (A brief tangent: "Church congregation" always sounds redundant to me. Use one term or the other, but you don't need both, right?)

Near the end, the story returns to God:

Bekki said that each morning, she asks God what his will is for her that day. Then she vows to embrace that will, whatever it might be.
"I'd like for him to write it on the chalkboard in my kitchen," she mused. "But he doesn't."
Each day brings challenges -- and no guarantees.
Each time she goes for an infusion, she briefly braces herself when handed her blood work results.
"Ultimately, I can't let that piece of paper dictate my day or the way my life is going to be," she said. "Because I don't really have control. Living with a different perspective since I was diagnosed is absolutely the perspective God needed me to have."

But here's my complaint: The story of Nill's faith remains vague and surface level. There are no profound questions — or answers — about what she really believes or where God fits in her cancer battle. 

This piece is 1,800 words long, but it's about as deep as a dive in a kiddie pool.

That's frustrating.



Please respect our Commenting Policy