Nurse Director Lynn Winfield Hematology/Oncology Inpatient Unit at Children’s Hospital
Jack White is 5 and three-quarters years old. He’s a loving, inquisitive and ebullient young boy whose life is now full of unexpected nighttime trips to the ER, exhaustion, antibiotic breathing treatments, bandage removal, confusion, frustration and lots of pain.
Five months ago he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His numbers are great and his future is bright, but for now, instead of romping with friends and leading a normal raucous life, he and his parents spend way too many of their days camping out at Children’s Hospital.
“The nurses there are so gentle and good at their jobs,” he says, but it’s clear he doesn’t want to talk about the hospital any more. He’s much more interested in gently wielding his Ninja sword and beating nefarious foes other than cancer.
Each day, worldwide, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer. Lynn Winfield, nurse director for the Hematology/Oncology Inpatient Unit at Children’s Hospital knows those statistics all too well. She’s served on that unit for 25 years. Caring for local children suffering from this illness is her life’s work.
“The best thing about my job is seeing the spirit of these kids,” she says. “They are amazing individuals. These little people are second-to-none for their courage and hearts.”
When she was young, Winfield read "Eric" by Doris Lund, the bestselling story of a boy with leukemia who refused to give up living. It had a profound impact on her and drove her passion to work with pediatric oncology patients. The relationships she has built with families and children over the last quarter of a century have shaped her entire career.
“We all become a family and there is such camaraderie between the children, the families and the staff,” she says. “I get to work with the most amazing families and we have an amazing staff.”
The Tubre family is, for better or worse, a part of that family. Their daughter, Anna Claire, was born with a rare combination of four heart defects and their son, John Robert, was recently diagnosed with Leukemia.
“Lynn is a wealth of knowledge, “ says Jamie Tubre, Anna Claire and John Robert’s mother. “Some managers stay behind the scenes but she’s very active. She knows every child and she knows all their family members. She’s always ready to answer any question and she reaches you on a personal level, helping ease your fears and anxiety.”
For her dedication and hard work, Winfield was recently named one of Louisiana’s Great 100 Nurses - one of three named from Children’s Hospital.
According to the St. Baldrick's Foundation, an organization that raises funds to help find cures for children with cancer, in the 1950s almost all kids diagnosed with cancer died. Because of research and the great work done at hospitals such as Children’s Hospital, today about 90 percent of kids with the most common type of cancer will live.
Winfield says she looks forward to the day when she can say that childhood cancer has been totally cured.
“These children touch your heart,” she adds, “and that’s forever.”