AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event“She loved going to school despite her illness,” Romeo Manahan said of his daughter. “She always looked forward to it. It gave her a break.” Melissa’s medical problems began before she was born, when doctors detected a tumor growing inside of her. When she was 3 days old, it was removed. The surgery was the first of 11. She was 2 when she was diagnosed with a rare cancer called germ cell tumor, which spreads to other parts of the body. About 900 children each year are diagnosed with the cancer. The small-framed girl with brown eyes and hair underwent chemotherapy, radiation, bone-marrow transplants and other life-saving techniques until there weren’t any more treatments left. “She made us appreciate life,” said her mother, Elaine Manahan. “She made us strong. She made me strong.” CASTAIC – The school was her sanctuary. It was a haven from the hospital beds, doctors’ appointments and surgeries that dominated little Melissa Manahan’s life. The girl died last year after battling cancer nearly all her life. She was 9. On Saturday, her parents, sister and friends gathered at Castaic Elementary School for a memorial created in her memory. The bench and tree will serve as a reading area on campus and will also represent other children from the school who will die young. The family has donated $3,000 to the school to buy books for its library, where a section will be dedicated in Melissa’s name. The Manahans plan to donate more books to the school over time. Reading was one of the girl’s passions. She became an avid reader in the hospital and completed stacks of books. Her favorites were “The Little Mermaid” and the Harry Potter series. On a Web site created in her memory, Melissa smiles from a picture posted at the top of the page. Hundreds of photos that follow include Melissa with her parents and sister Madeleine, 7, at events connected to her survival and her death. Visitors to the page have written their condolences, and some shared stories about their own losses. It seems that even in her death, the girl is still touching people’s lives – including Andrew McGrory. The 14-year-old worked on her memorial for an Eagle Scout project and found an inspiration for its design after meeting with the Manahans. The family hopes their daughter’s remembrance at the school will be an inspiration for others. “She taught me to never give up,” her father said. “To never accept no for an answer.” Melissa’s Web site is www.melissa-manahan.memory-of.com. [email protected] (661) 257-5254160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!