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Conversations with Creatives: Carolyn Enting

Through her own family's journey with bowel cancer, Good magazine editor Carolyn Enting shares her experience in an effort to raise awareness about the disease.

Magazine editor, Carolyn Enting, grew up in Wellington with parents who instilled healthy values to nurture the body, mind and heart – values that Carolyn inspires through her leadership role at Good. Here, Carolyn talks to us about her role in the community, living with gratitude and caring for your body. Having lost her mum to bowel cancer Carolyn knows how important it is to stay ahead of your health checks.

Where are you from?
I grew up in Blue Mountains Rd, Upper Hutt. My parents built a home set on 2 acres of native bush that overlooked the Tararua mountain ranges. We were high up enough that on misty mornings the low lying fog looked like a giant lake stretching from us to the foot of the mountains and I used to imagine rowing across it. We also had glowworms living on a bank in our driveway. It was pretty magical. Upper Hutt is a very pretty river valley with some great swimming holes, too.

Why did you choose the career path of journalism?
I picked up two second hand copies of the Sally Baxter Girl Reporter series at a school fair when I was 14. Baxter was a young reporter who got a job on a Fleet St newspaper and her assignments took her on adventures to interesting overseas destinations where also got great “scoops”. I thought, now here’s a great career where you get to travel and write about cool stuff. I haven’t looked back, and I still have those books. 

What I love about my role as an editor is telling stories that make a difference and curating a magazine that feels meaningful. Editing a publication like Good, which is for conscious-consumers, gives me purpose. I also love the creativity part. I’m a very visual editor with a photography and fashion background. And of course I love crafting a feature – there is nothing more enjoyable or satisfying – as you pull together many strands of information and ideas into a cohesive feature. It’s a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle.

What’s a big life lesson you’ve learnt?  
That you create your own opportunities. Dad actually taught me this. I watched him do it. People would say to him, ‘oh you are so lucky that you get to go to the places you do’. He was a photographer. However, he was the one who created those opportunities, asked the right questions and was prepared to get up pre-dawn to capture the best light. I’ve since put that into practice many times and it works. If you really want to do something, don’t wait for it to be served up on a plate, because it won’t be. Ask if you can, and strive for it. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll be told ‘no’, but mostly the answer will be ‘yes’. And don’t stop at the first ‘no’.

Do you have a favourite quote?
“Limitations are illusions, obstacles are good exercise. Action is the way forward.” I’ve had this quote on my wall for years. I got it from a friend of mine, David Savage of Elevate Coaching who coached me years ago. 

What does community look like to you? 
Supporting one another, being kind, lending a helping hand when you see one is needed, being inclusive, and sharing limes from the garden with the neighbours. 

Who is someone that has made a significant impact on your life?
My sister Stella who is the kindest, most loving and beautiful person. She also has Down syndrome. She has taught me patience, humility, acceptance, how to find joy in the smallest of things and unconditional love. I could go on!

Good Magazine editor, Carolyn Enting, wears Flox's Bum Huggers design. Photographed by Carolyn Haslett

How has bowel cancer affected you?
My mother Sally passed away from bowel cancer and the tragedy was it was discovered too late. Ironically Mum was a very healthy person. She ate organic food, was dairy-free, didn’t drink alcohol and was into all things natural. So the diagnosis came as a real shock for us all. She also had an aversion to visiting conventional doctors unless she really had to, and a really high pain threshold, so when she finally went to the doctor she was sent straight to A & E and had emergency surgery the very next day to remove a huge tumor from her bowel. The surgery was successful and Mum lived for a further year before secondary cancer claimed her. Mum chose not to do chemo. That was her personal choice which I respect. The tragedy of it is that bowel cancer, while it is New Zealand’s biggest cause of cancer deaths, is also extremely preventable if you have early and regular checks. 

Given your family history, do you take precautions?
Since Mum passed away from bowel cancer I have had regular colonoscopies – every two-three years. On my first colonoscopy they found 2 polyps which they removed and tests showed they were benign. Left unchecked, polyps can become cancerous in the bowel. It is important to have them removed as a preventative measure. The crazy thing is you of course have no idea that they are there unless you get checked. So early detection is key in the fight against bowel cancer.

How do you keep healthy?
I exercise a minimum of three times a week (low impact stuff – yoga, walking, resistance exercises), have given up coffee, eat a mostly vegan high fibre diet during the week and have limited my red meat consumption.

Why is important for our community to have access to general, subspecialty and acute medical care?   
I think this is vital and the work that Great Full is doing is really important which is one of the reasons why I didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes’ to being photographed in a pair of Great Full bum huggers for such a great cause, though I admit it did push me out of my comfort zone!

What are you grateful for?
So many things that I can’t list them all here. I’m grateful to live in such a beautiful country, have a job that is purposeful, my supportive partner Simon who continues to challenge me and push me out of my comfort zone, to have had two incredibly kind, wise and creative parents (not everyone is so lucky) – so while I have now lost them both, I feel so grateful to have had a safe and loving childhood and upbringing. Many are not so lucky.

Do you practice gratitude? If so, how?
Yes, I have for years. I had a gratitude journal many years back when I was going through a particularly rough patch in my life and it helped immensely. Today, I do a verbal gratitude list when I drive to work each day. I say out loud the things that I am grateful for and that puts things into a wonderful perspective and helps set the intention for the day with a positive mindset.

Photography by Carolyn Haslett