A Kindle for Ellie Potvin.

Ellie on 2009 Christmas Disney cruise, before beginning another round of chemotherapy.

I’m sitting at the kitchen bar, looking out the picture window at the sanctuary dogs in their kennels, sprawled out upside down in the sun. Usually when I write, there’s noise or music; today, it’s the silence I feel most grateful for — the stillness it brings on a slow, desert Saturday that is mine to spend in whatever way brings peace or pleasure. 

Just the day itself is a blessing. I’m home and I can do whatever I want, perched near to those I love, my books, my dogs, my horses. Just to have my life to myself, forgetting my body because I have no pain, choosing where I sleep, eat, write and even what I see out my window — it’s all a blessing. Taking things for granted is a luxury. 

I compare this to Ellie Potvin’s Saturday. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. 


Ellie is a sweet, kind, 8-year-old girl with relapsed Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare pediatric cancer she and her family thought they’d beat after over forty doses of chemotherapy. Amy Potvin, Ellie’s Mom, writes with joy of a laughter-filled summer full of love and fun, having graciously learned cancer’s lesson of living in the moment and taking nothing for granted, so thankful that their daughter, twin sister to Grace Potvin, fought hard and won her battle with cancer.  


And then, the diagnosis in Fall of 2009: Ellie’s cancer had relapsed, and scans showed fast-growing tumors in her lungs and abdomen. 

I can’t explain why I am so touched by this little girl, this family. Perhaps it’s because they possess so much faith at a time so many would lose faith … and display so much grace and courage in the midst of a situation that would break the best of us and bring us to our knees.

I try on their shoes each day as I follow updates on Ellie … 


… or follow Amy Potvin’s twitter account: @amypotvin, riding the emotional wave from afar as this family is “in it to win it” against cancer. Looking on, a person can’t help but feel moved to do something

It was just a few days ago that I had the idea of getting Ellie a Kindle reading device. As I read about Ellie starting another course of chemotherapy, I worried about the days she’d feel too sick, tired or nauseous to distract herself with arts and crafts. With a Kindle, she could choose books her Mom could read to her, along with Amy Potvin having access to newspapers and other reading material, a.k.a, the world outside the hospital. Such luxuries often recede to the background in financially and emotionally tough situations. 

And then it hit me: what about asking Amazon.com to donate a Kindle device, or personally collect donations from caring individuals to buy Ellie a Kindle? So, I sent an email off to Amazon.com:

My name is Emily Murdoch, and I’m hoping to speak to someone in authority that handles your Kindle device. 

 This is in regards to an eight-year-old girl named Ellie Potvin, with relapsed Rhabdomyosarcoma cancer and rapidly growing tumors in her lungs and abdomen. The first three lines of chemotherapy haven’t worked, and she was just given a 4 week prognosis if the fourth line chemo she’s beginning doesn’t shrink or stop the growth of her tumors.
For this chemo, Ellie needs to be in the hospital for a week each third week of the month, which means, away from her twin sister Grace, school, her friends, father and all that makes life bright for a child. She hates the hospital, but knows she’s sick.
I’m looking to speak to someone who might be able to donate a Kindle device to Ellie Potvin so her mother can read to her while she’s in the hospital undergoing treatment and too sick from the side-effects of chemotherapy to move around or do crafts.
As book lovers know, a magical world lives within the pages of a book, capable of transporting people out of their immediate circumstances. While a Kindle device can’t cure cancer, it could bring some joy to hospital stays for a little girl facing the toughest battle of her life.
I understand how difficult it can be to read or hear about this type of situation. But I do hope you’ll “pay it forward” and direct me to someone in the company who could gift this little girl with a Kindle, or lead me to someone who knows someone who could.
Thank you so much for your help,
Emily Murdoch
@LeftyWritey on Twitter


Recently, I was in touch with a person from Kindle, who wrote me: 

Hi, I just saw your message. I will forward the message to Amazon. 

Ellie’s [Caringbridge] site is being spread around Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace through my friend (a doctor) who has many followers, so hope it helps. 

I hope it helps, too. (Thank you, and thank you, Dr. Jose Guevara — @DrJoseGuevara)

In the meantime, I’m running a drive to collect donations for a  #Kindle4Ellie. All proceeds will go toward purchasing Ellie a Kindle in case an Amazon donation doesn’t come through. Any extra funds will be donated to Ellie’s Fund … 

Lift Up Ellie!

… to help the Potvin family with expenses as they “kick cancer’s butt with a smile”. (Please feel free to donate directly.)

You can donate to #Kindle4Ellie through paypal.com to the email address: Kindle4Ellie(at)aol(dot)com.

(A Kindle costs $259.00. If you have any questions, you can find me on twitter, @LeftyWritey.)

Kindle 4 Ellie Official Donation Page now posted: http://bit.ly/bjFbiw

UPDATE:  Ellie’s Kindle Is On Its Way!

Most of all, the Potvin family and Ellie could use your prayers. Please help us #LiftUpEllie and join in the call for a miracle! 

A smile as wide as the world.

 UPDATE: Angel Wings For Ellie Potvin: http://bit.ly/9YvNJG

 Photographs by Amy Potvin

32 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Emily Murdoch, Jennifer Swanson. Jennifer Swanson said: RT @LeftyWritey: Pls RT or donate 2 get stories 4 sick girl during chemo. Thank you! https://emilymurdoch.wordpress.com/2010/01/02/a-kind … […]

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by LeftyWritey: @amypotvin @LiftUpEllie Pls RT 4 Ellie 2 get stories during chemo. https://emilymurdoch.wordpress.com/2010/01/02/a-kindle-for-ellie-potvin/

  3. […] This post was Twitted by PizzaPreacher […]

  4. […] This post was Twitted by leslie_dennis […]

  5. Oh Em,

    Your email to Kindle was so beautiful. That would be so amazing if they did donate one to her.

    What about paper book donations? I have so many books, including ones for younger readers. And those could certainly be read and enjoyed by the other kids in the hospital, too.

  6. Tasha — That’s a wonderful idea!

    Let me get an address for the hospital, and talk to some people, there.

    *Thank You* for an *awesome* suggestion. It’d be *great* to start a library for all the children at the hospital. I have a few children’s books I could donate, too, including one of my lifelong favorites — A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.


    And, Happy 2010 to you and your loved ones. Here’s to a wonderful year.


  7. I think you are amazing for starting the ball rolling on this!

  8. Thanks for the RTs @PizzaPreacher and @leslie_dennis!

    : )


  9. Aww, thank you, Angela.

    Even if the donations don’t come, or if Amazon doesn’t come through, the prayers will help so much.

    It looks like there may be a library starting, too. I’ll keep everyone updated when the time comes for physical book donations.

    Still checking it out.


  10. This is Ellie’s Mom… I have no idea why I googled “Ellie Potvin” this morning… but I am glad I did!

    Kindle or no kindle…. finding that you have created such a special website for our Ellie and desiring to bring such an awesome gift is more than enough. You write beautifully… thank you for your kindness, compassion and continued support through prayer.

    “In It to Win It!”

    Amy Potvin

  11. Amy!

    I’ve been in the middle of an email to you the last few days, but we’ve had a death in the family (older person who was sick) and things got crazy here at the ranch. I wanted to make sure it was okay that I used your photos, of course attributing them to you.

    I just think you have an amazing spirit, although I’d give anything to take away what your family is going through. All of you are in my prayers countless times each day. I was standing in the kitchen cheering yesterday when I read the lung scan results! : ) HOORAY! Go Ellie!

    And I light a candle for team Potvin every day.

    More in my email, but please know that you, Ellie, Grace and Tim are in so many of our thoughts and prayers.

    Made me smile to see you here. : )


  12. What a great idea! *two very enthusiastic thumbs up!*

  13. Hey Laura. I smiled to see you here! : )

    So far, there’s only been $23.99 raised, with $20 of it being a donation from me, lol.

    Kindle/Amazon is ignoring me. I think it’s time for plan B.

    I have a whopper of a plan B! Stay tuned!

    They don’t call me stubborn for nothing!

    On a similar note, Ellie went home from her week of inpatient chemo, tonight.

    (Way to go Ellie and Amy! Team Potvin all the way! Your family remains in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.)

    Now, Laura, time to go follow you back on twitter. : )


  14. Are you guys still trying to raise the money for this? A friend and I run the @LiftUpEllie twitter account. We have 6,500+ followers and I just posted about it. Hope it gets the donations flowing! This is a wonderful idea. Ellie so deserves every bit of it, too. She’s an amazing girl.

  15. Hi Lindsay!

    Yes, I’m still trying to raise money for this. I’ve only received one donation of 3.99, and the other 20$ is my own donation.

    I was about to revamp efforts on this after a hard few months (we had a death in the family, husband working OT, which put the burden of ranch chores on my shoulders) and which has kept me from being online as much as usual.

    Thank you so much for your comment, and for helping raise awareness on this Kindle drive. I couldn’t get to anyone in authority at Kindle, and no one at Amazon will return my emails about this. I’ve been trying to brainstorm a plan B, and have other writers like myself also open to contributing children’s books to make a sort of library for the kids at the hospital. I don’t know if this is possible, due to the sterile environment.

    It’s funny to get your comment today, as I was just in the midst of an email to Amy.

    I follow your twitter account, too. Ellie and all the Potvins are blessed to have you in their corner! : )

    Again, thank you for helping me raise awareness.

    Emily : )

  16. I’ve gotten a few @replies saying that they’ll donate…I sure hope that they follow through! I’m only 15 (so don’t have a credit card, of course) but I definitely want to donate to this. I’ll talk to my parents and get the credit card info, etc. 😉

    Thanks for doing this!

  17. Thank you so much, Heather, for the donation for Ellie’s Kindle! We’re now up to 48.99 — we’re getting there!

    I really appreciate your kindness. : )


  18. Hi Lindsay.

    I hope they donate, too. I think it’s wonderful that Ellie would have so many stories to choose from, compared to packing books and carting them back and forth.

    Thank you for all YOU do for Ellie and Amy. You are *amazing*, with such a good heart at such a young age.

    What I’ll do, and people who donate can do, is post their donation in the comments here. I understand people being wary of donating money to a stranger, but if they post the amount of their donations in the comments, we all can see what donations have come in, and how much.

    I’m so excited that a donation came in today! We’ll get there!


  19. There is an actress/producer (Courtney Zito) who asked where a donation can be made. I gave her the link to liftupellie.com and also the link to here! She seemed interested in getting Ellie something that she wants based on how she worded her question, so we’ll see!

    I’m excited about this! I’m very determined so I’ll keep posting until we get there!

  20. Hi Lindsay. : )

    You are definitely the Kindle Angel, lol!

    I’m excited about this, too. Amy and Ellie being able to download books in lieu of physical books may help keep a more sterile environment for Ellie. Kindle also has the widest variety, from my research, of available children’s books. I know Amy wrote in an update that Ellie finds reading to be her “happy place”. As a writer and avid reader myself, I understand that 100%!

    I’m also excited because Amy could use the Kindle also, for blogs, news, and as a way to have access to the outside world while in the hospital with Ellie.

    It doesn’t matter to me if someone else wanted to gift Ellie with a Kindle, or donate through me. I’d be happy either way. Anything I raise for it, if not needed for the Kindle, will go to the Lift Up Ellie fund to help the Potvins.

    Thank you so much for your help, Lindsay. Your comment made me smile, and all your help and enthusiasm is very appreciated. : )!


  21. I think a Kindle would be GREAT for them too. I’ve never had personal experience with one but I know a few people that have them and love them.

    A few people have asked on the twitter recently where they can donate, I think they must be new followers because it’s coming so out of the blue! I’ve referred them here and of course to liftupellie.com. Sorry that I haven’t made my donation yet, but I will very soon.

  22. Forgive my ignorance and I apologize for asking you instead of my mom (;)) but how do you donate? I see the paypal address. Is that an email or do I go through paypal.com?

  23. I will make it clearer in the post, thanks for pointing that out! (I’m new to paypal, too).

    Donations are made at paypal.com to the email address Kindle4Ellie@aol.com

  24. Gotcha, thank you! I will make my donation tomorrow. I am doing all of my “Ellie stuff” tomorrow – donation to here, ordering the Bella Tunno headband and the jewelry from the jeweler I’ve been tweeting about that’s donating 50% to Ellie’s fund!

  25. Hi Lindsay.

    All you’re doing for Ellie is wonderful. : )

    I’ll retweet the jewelry for Ellie information, so perhaps more people can take advantage of it.

    Ellie and the Potvin’s are blessed to have you in their corner. : )


  26. Someone asked me why a Kindle, instead of a Sony Reader or a Nook. Here’s why I chose a Kindle over other reading devices for Ellie:

    A) Kindle has a vast amount of children’s book choices.

    B) the audio feature — the Kindle has Read to Me text to speech feature — it could read a book to Ellie.

    C) Amy could use it (it’s MS Word and PDF compatible) for her manuscript/to edit her manuscript — the book she’s planning to write using her journal entries from CaringBridge — and do it there from the hospital on the Kindle.

    D) 14 hr battery life vs 10 hrs on Nook.

    E) Web browser on Kindle.

    F) PC Support – Kindle for PC, with XP, Vista, and Windows 7 Support, Kindle for Mac coming soon, and Kindle for iphone and Blackberry.

    G) Kindle books are cheaper.

    H) Kindle has free internet.

    I) Kindle has Wikipedia access.

    For these reasons, I think the Kindle is a better choice for Ellie and Amy. I think the text to speech feature could *really* come in handy for the times Ellie is feeling ill during chemo.

    All she’d need to do is listen to hear a story.


  27. Hi there!
    I think what you are all doing for Ellie is so wonderful. I heard she got the Kindle 🙂 I have been following everyone on twitter @courtneyzito. The entire family is in my thoughts and prayers. I have been really moved by her story and think of her almost daily ever since Lindsey first contacted me. I would love to do something special for her and so the wheels are turning… Hopefully my idea works out. Either way the entire family has my support and prayers.

  28. Hey there, Courtney.

    Thanks for all you wrote, and for stopping over. : )

    Yes, we reached our goal for the Kindle. I’m still shocked (in a good way)! The Kindle will ship to Ellie this week. She’ll have four Kindle books to start off with.

    I also plan to send a card to Ellie signed with the donors’ names. (I’ll do a blog post when both items are on their way.) I plan to fill the card with stars and hearts confetti! Too fun. I’ll warn Amy to have Ellie open it outside, to save a mess.

    Next, I plan to organize an ongoing Kindle 4 Ellie Book Drive. A Kindle is no fun without books, which are about $9.99 each.

    Lindsay told me about you wanting to do something for Ellie, either Kindle-wise or otherwise, and I went and checked you out. : ) You definitely have a new fan. Do come back and let us know what you come up with for Ellie. That’s so kind of you!

    I hear you — I, too, have been so moved by Ellie and her family’s journey. It’s very humbling, and very inspiring. Really makes a person think, count blessings, stay grateful.

    All the continued best to you in your career. Pretty cool. : )


  29. Ellie gained her angel wings yesterday, at 11.35 a.m. in the arms of her lovely mum..
    She’s now dancing on us, with the angels, and I can hear her singing from up above..
    Goodbye, strong Ellie, you are free, now..
    31.10.01 – 23.06.10
    Forever eight, forever missed, forever remembered!!

  30. i’m so sad about this. my friend gabby told about her and how she died, she told me all her history and i start cryin’.
    Such a beautiful, nice, cute and good girl died:(
    the best persons in the world die and the worse still alive
    i will liked to die instead that her. ’cause her life still have to go on. and i don;t have any reason to live right now. she had one 😥

  31. You could certainly see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

  32. Dear Ellie Potvin,

    I am going to talk to you as an angel. I’m pretty sure wings are as wide and beautiful like you. Everyone pray for the child of god. We love, pray and watch this beautiful little girl in heaven where she is safe and loved. I really wish I could talk to you as your normal self.

    Love Tiana

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