In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

March 10, 2015

Lighting Up the Library: Young Patient Finds a Home Among the Books

By In the Loop


When 3-year-old Ellis Paulson visits the Patients’ Library on the Saint Marys campus, it’s difficult to determine who has the bigger smile, Ellis or librarian Julie Taylor. That’s because Ellis is a girl after Julie’s own heart -- a lover of books. And hers just might be a love story for the ages.

For the past eight months, Ellis and her parents, Eric and Jennifer, and her 9-month-old sister, Quinn, have been traveling from their home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus so Ellis can receive chemotherapy for is acute lymphoblastic leukemia. One of Ellis’ favorite activities during her many stays at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center and nearby Ronald McDonald House is stopping by the Saint Marys Patients’ Library. She seems to be happiest when she’s among the books.

In fact, she regularly travels up to the library, on the 7th floor of Francis Tower, with an Ellis-size shopping cart to carry all of her newfound treasures. And she lights up the place when she stops by. “Ellis has such a great personality,” Julie says. “Other library visitors describe her as ‘a ray of sunshine.’ Some of the other patrons have told me that they always hope Ellis is here when they visit.”

Ellis Paulson at home among the books. For many pediatric patients, the library is a regular field trip. Besides books, there are board games, videos, and a craft table to provide much-needed distractions. And it’s not just for patients. Family members can also find plenty to do in the library. There are laptops, iPads, X-Box, DVDs, and Internet access. We’re guessing visitors also welcome the library’s collection of phone chargers.

During a recent visit to the library, Ellis was lifting a big pile of books to the counter to check them out. “I commented on how heavy they must be,” Julie says, “and Ellis lifted her arm to show her muscle and said, ‘Girl Power.’” Dad, Eric, tells us that “Girl Power” has been Ellis’ mantra since her diagnosis. He says it helps her get through the many needle pokes, chemo treatments, and tough days.

And it sounds like “Girl Power” is working its magic, because it’s going to be a while before Ellis will be back to visit the Patients’ Library. She will only have to travel to Rochester every four weeks now as she starts the maintenance phase of her treatment. But you can bet the Saint Mary Patients’ Library will be on her itinerary when she comes to town.

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Tags: Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, Library, Patient Stories

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