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Dream come true: Teacher battling cancer publishes book

TERRACE PARK, Ohio (Angenette Levy) -- Maria Childs has always dreamed of writing a children's book. Reading and writing have been her life-long passion.
Childs teaches second grade at Terrace Park Elementary School and reads to her students every day. Now she can add published author to her resume.
"Huge dream come true. I've wanted to do it forever and always kind of had it on the bucket list of things that I thought I can do later on and put it off and put it off and put it off," Childs said.
Childs wrote "Firefighters Don't" while completing her Master's Degree at Miami University in 2007. "Firefighters Don't" tells the story of a boy named Colin Ryan who wants to be a firefighter and tells his mother that firefighters don't have to do chores. Colin Ryan is a combination of Maria's three sons. Her husband, Scott, is a Union Township firefighter.  She sent the book to publishers in 2008 and received many rejection letters.
"I had no idea it was this difficult. I thought 'Of course, people would want to publish your book. Of course they would,'" Childs said.
Childs put the book on the back burner. But in March 2012, she was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Melanoma. It's one of the most serious types of skin cancer which has spread other parts of the body. Patients with Metastatic Melanoma typically live between two and five years. Scott Childs asked a fellow firefighter, Craig Forster, to illustrate the book so Marias dream could come true.
"Everything that you think about when you get that diagnosis that completely shocking there is absolutely no cure for this diagnosis, I was just floored," said Childs.
Scott Childs had bigger plans for his wife's book. He had planned to put it together and submit it to her. But unbeknownst to her, he sent it to publishers on his own. Oklahoma-based Tate Publishing picked up the book and published it. Scott surprised Maria with the news at a bowling event friends had organized for them in February 2013.
"Now it's so unbelievable I still am having a hard time grasping it. I keep thinking OK. This is real," Maria said.
Forster's illustrations contain hidden messages including the birth years of the Childs' three sons and a black ribbon for Melanoma awareness.
Childs said she has exhausted all treatment options in the Cincinnati area and is currently enrolled in a clinical trial at Vanderbilt University. Every three weeks, Maria and Scott travel to Tennessee for the PD-1 treatment.
While she has days when she feels down or tired, Maria is not letting cancer stop her. She's working on another book she hopes to publish.
"There's too much I want to do. There's too many things that I want to see, there are way too many places that I want to take my kids that I just need to focus on living. And I think that's probably a really good lesson for everyone," Maria said.
A book signing party will be held on Sunday, March 9 at Terrace Park Elementary School from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. A bake sale will raise money for Melanoma Know More, an organization that raises awareness about the disease and provides assistance to those living with it.

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