brain cancer

Religion News Association honors AP religion writer Rachel Zoll, one of the best on the beat

Religion News Association honors AP religion writer Rachel Zoll, one of the best on the beat

Rachel Zoll, national religion writer for The Associated Press, is impossible not to like.

That’s true even for her competitors, said Jeff Diamant, a former religion writer for The Star-Ledger in New Jersey.

“Her expertise on the beat is really something to behold, and when you get to know her, you see that she has one of the great personalities in the profession or really anywhere,” Diamant, contest chairman for the Religion News Association, said at the association’s annual awards banquet Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio.

“This makes it really hard to get mad at Rachel Zoll,” he added, “even when she beats you on a story in your hometown or when you're a source and she writes something you don't like because the story was fair.”

The RNA gave Zoll, who has terminal brain cancer, a Special Recognition Award, which AP deputy managing editor Sarah Nordgren accepted on her behalf.

Diamant noted that colleagues praised Zoll as a reporter, a writer, a colleague and a person — “the total package.” See a video of the presentation and Nordgren’s acceptance remarks at about the one-hour, nine-minute mark of this video.

It’s not the only honor she has received recently:

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If parents want to decline cancer treatment for their child in favor of herbs, is that religion news?

If parents want to decline cancer treatment for their child in favor of herbs, is that religion news?

It’s a decision that even Solomon might find challenging.

On one side is a 14-year-old girl with a life-threatening brain tumor and a hospital that wants to save her. On the other are the girl’s parents who also want to save her, albeit through naturopathic methods instead of chemotherapy.

Then take it all to court and you have a fascinating story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about doctors versus parents and a 14-year-old who’s going irreversibly blind in the meantime.

But there’s one huge hole in this narrative. See if you can spot it:

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- On the last Tuesday in March, in an eighth-floor courtroom high above a dense fog hiding downtown Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Magistrate Ginny Millas faced a weeping mother and a father so anguished he struggled to speak.

During two days of testimony, Millas had listened to people argue the fate of a 14-year-old girl with a brain tumor.

Cleveland Clinic specialists say chemotherapy is the only way to treat Zara Ali's tumor, save her failing eyesight and possibly her life.

Her parents have resisted. They've been doctoring their daughter with "natural and holistic medicine," gentler remedies they believe will heal her. Herbal cures have long been part of Zara's family life and are in keeping with their religion, said her father, who came to court each day wearing a red fez, as many Moorish Americans do.

What religion, you might ask while perusing this story. And therein lies the problem. We’re not told. Can we agree that this is a rather essential fact to leave out?

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