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Books offered a teen's father relief from his cancer diagnosis. Now she's collecting them for sick kids.

Teenager helps sick kids one book at a time
Teenager helps sick kids one book at a time 01:38

Getting lost in a good book is often an escape into a new world. A Maryland teenager discovered that after her father was diagnosed with cancer. 

Emily Bhatnagar, 18, is now giving thousands of sick children the gift of literature through her book drive, "For Love and Buttercup." 

It all started in 2019 when her father was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. 

"It was the worst. It was like reliving it every single night, like nightmares and panic attacks," she told CBS News. "I thought, 'It's hard enough for an adult to have cancer,' but when you think about a kid having cancer — and it just broke my heart." 

So the petite teenager with a big heart put out word on social media that she was collecting books for sick children. 

"I was expecting like two or three responses, and there were like hundreds and hundreds, and so many books by my door, and it was just really exciting," she said. 

She's distributed 9,000 new books to hospitals and schools in need, including MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, where her dad was treated. 

Bhatnagar said it was a form of therapy for her. 

"I think this helped more than anything," she said. 

Her dad has since turned the page and is doing well. As for Bhatnagar, her happy ending would be to make this book drive into a lifelong mission. 

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