Ask Richard: Atheist with Terminal Cancer Faces Several Decisions

Dear Richard,

Two days ago, I was diagnosed with brain cancer for the 3rd time in 14 years. To make a long story short, my cancer has evolved from a grade II Astrocytoma, to the most aggressive form, grade IV Glioblastoma Multiforme. Glioblastoma is incurable and I probably won’t survive past 15 months.

My family is Lutheran and very conservative. Both of my parents disapprove of gay people, atheists, and non-Christians, so telling them I’m atheist on top of my recent diagnosis, and eldest sister’s recent death will absolutely crush them. Now that the rest of my family has been told of my fate, the ‘I will pray for you’ s and the constant church visits are non-stop. My parents are trying to push herbal treatments on me now and they are trying to get me into the Burzynski Clinic, which is a gigantic scam towards cancer patients. They are also trying to plan a trip to someplace like Hawaii, but I don’t exactly want that. My also atheist brother is trying to help me with everything, but he is scared that he will probably tip off my parents about us.

I need help with a lot of things:

. Should I or should I not tell them about my atheism?
. Should I start college this fall?
. How should I ask for a non-church, non-Lutheran funeral?
. Should I tell the rest of my family?
. Should I accept treatment (survival without treatment is 3-4 months)
. How am I supposed to die with grace?

The last one is most important to me. I don’t want to die with medicines constantly being shoved into my mouth and trips all around the world. I just want to spend time with my family like I normally would: Sitting together around a dinner table, making each other laugh and making google eyes at my brother while we’re supposed to be at church.

Thank you for everything,
The Cancer Chick

Dear Cancer Chick,

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After Priest Dies, His Obituary Omits the Fact That He Was Kicked Out of the Ministry for Sexually Abusing Children

Rev. Robert H. Purcell (below) died last week and several newspapers published a notice of his passing. It (unsurprisingly) mentioned the highlights of his life:



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A New Website for Atheists Who Have Suffered the Death of a Loved One

In 2011, after dealing with the loss of her three-month-old son and the typical reactions she received from well-meaning friends and family members, atheist Rebecca Hensler began a Facebook group called Grief Beyond Belief:



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An Atheist Delivers a Eulogy for His Religious Grandmother

Reader Dan Krauss‘ grandmother died about three weeks ago and he was tasked with the unenviable job of delivering the eulogy on behalf of his family. Dan’s not religious but his grandmother was Catholic and he wanted to strike a balance between the two worlds that wouldn’t disrespect her beliefs but also wouldn’t compromise his own.

What he came up with was, I think, a perfect combination:

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Atheist with Terminal Lung Cancer Throws Himself an Inspiring Living Funeral Before It’s Too Late

Louis Misko doesn’t have much longer to live. Less than six months, if his doctors are right, because of Stage 4 lung cancer.

He doesn’t believe in God and he knows he won’t be seeing his friends and loved ones in the afterlife, so he did something unusual: He threw himself a funeral while he was still around to enjoy it:

Mark Waller at NOLA.com tells his story:

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