Runaway Teen Convert Rifqa Bary Battles Cancer

The teen girl who ran away from her Muslim family for fear of being harmed for converting to Christianity is battling uterine cancer.

Rifqa Bary, 17, is scheduled to undergo her third surgery Thursday, said her former lawyer, John Stemberger.

Stemberger, who argued last year for Bary to remain in Florida, said Bary wanted the public to know about her condition so people could pray for her.

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Last summer, Bary ran away from her Columbus, Ohio, home and took refuge in the home of two pastors in Orlando. The teen said she feared her father would kill her for converting from Islam to Christianity and said her father threatened to physically harm her.

But investigators in Florida and Ohio found no evidence that Bary's life was in danger.

After several months of court hearings, it was decided that Bary should be sent back to Ohio where a judge there would take over the case.

Since her return to Ohio in October, Bary has stayed with a foster family. The court battle continues between her parents, who want her to move back into the family home, and Bary who wants to live separately. The judge has ordered the family to attend reconciliation sessions, but has allowed for the two parties to participate separately.

Bary will turn 18 on Aug. 10, at which time the custody battle is expected to end since she will legally be an adult.

Complicating the matter, however, is Bary's illegal immigration status. Even when she turns 18 and can make her own decisions, Bary will face possible deportation to her native country, Sri Lanka.

Her attorney, Angela Lloyd, said in April that obtaining special immigration status for Bary is urgent. It is feared that if the teen is returned to Sri Lanka she will be harmed or killed by Muslim extremists.

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