An en­thu­si­as­tic Enid

Bishop’s Cove se­nior uses her sur­vival ex­pe­ri­ence as inspiration to help oth­ers


A cancer pa­tient in her se­nior years is sitting in the Dr. H. Bliss Mur­phy Cancer Cen­tre in St. John’s, wait­ing to see her doc­tor and strug­gling to swal­low a drop of wa­ter.

Spy­ing her, Enid Barrett of Bishop’s Cove en­cir­cles her with her arms and asks, “ What’s wrong, my dar­ling?” The woman replies, “No­body cares.” Enid says, “I care. I have an An­gel of Hope for you.”

The sim­ple hand­made ob­ject changes the woman’s life.

For Enid, who’s mod­est and unas­sum­ing, it’s sim­ply an­other op­por­tu­nity to do what she does best — car­ing for other peo­ple. As a four-time cancer sur­vivor, the 83-year-old has earned her right to care.

In­spired by their faith

Her per­sonal jour­ney into the world of cancer be­gan in June 1982 when she was 54.

“I al­ways went and had pap smears, but never a breast ex­am­i­na­tion,” she told The Com­pass re­cently.

One day, af­ter her fam­ily doc­tor gave her a breast ex­am­i­na­tion, he said, “Enid, I found some­thing, and you have to go to St. John’s.” “It wasn’t nice to hear,” she ad­mits. Within days, she was ad­mit­ted to the Health Sci­ences Cen­tre, where she had a mas­tec­tomy.

She and her hus­band, John, a re­tired school­teacher, are strong be­liev­ers in God.

“ We talked be­tween our­selves and de­cided we weren’t go­ing to look back, but look ahead,” 83-year-old John said. “ We be­lieved God was go­ing to help us. We never once doubted.”

How­ever, their faith would be se­verely tried seven years later.

In 1989, the dreaded “C” word made a re­turn visit with a vengeance.

“It’s only small,” Enid’s doc­tor said fol­low­ing a mam­mo­gram, “ but in two years you could be in trou­ble.”

This time, Enid had a sec­ond mas­tec­tomy. Be­fore surgery, she told her doc­tor, “ I have to say one word, ‘ Into thy hands, O Lord, and now you can do what you like.’”

As if two bouts with cancer weren’t enough to try and de­feat Enid, about 15 years ago she faced the chal­lenge of ovar­ian cancer, re­sult­ing in a hys­terec­tomy.

Then, on a Sun­day some­time around

A good attitude

2008, she ex­pe­ri­enced sud­den and ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain in her stom­ach.

“It was worse than hav­ing young­sters,” she re­called. Again, within days, she un­der­went surgery, this time for punc­tured bow­els, per­haps caused by a chicken bone. She was 80.

“ We thought we were fin­ished,” her hus­band said.

Last year, as if to add in­sult to in­jury, Enid faced head-on her fourth battle with cancer. She was op­er­ated on for bowel cancer.

“ You’re the luck­i­est woman in New­found­land,” her doc­tor told her. “ There’s no other cancer in your body that we can de­tect.” She didn’t re­quire a colostomy, ra­di­a­tion or chemo­ther­apy.

“ This was al­most im­pos­si­ble to be­lieve,” John says. “It’s a mir­a­cle to me.”

Enid’s quar­tet of cancer bat­tles have taught her some valu­able lessons. First, a cancer diagnosis is not a death sen­tence.

“I be­lieve God is al­ways there to do some­thing if you be­lieve in him,” she stated.

John added, “part of the ther­apy is your attitude. A lot of peo­ple give up and say, ‘ This is it.’ But that’s not the way to look at it.” He noted “ the suc­cess sto­ries” are rarely told.

A sec­ond les­son is to sub­mit reg­u­larly to med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion, Enid said, es­pe­cially if there’s a his­tory of cancer in the fam­ily.

“I tell ev­ery­body I speak to, ‘Don’t let it go. Make sure you go and have an ex­am­i­na­tion,’” Enid said.

A fi­nal les­son is Enid’s con­vic­tion that God placed her on earth for a spe­cific rea­son — to reach out in love to oth­ers who are fac­ing crises. Her car­ing attitude has gar­nered the at­ten­tion of sev­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions.

In 2002, she was awarded the Golden Ju­bilee Medal, on the oc­ca­sion of the 50th an­niver­sary of the ac­ces­sion of Queen El­iz­a­beth II to the throne. In 2006, Enid was awarded the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral’s Car- • Age — 83 • Home­town — Up­per Is­land Cove • Re­sides — Bishop’s Cove • Fam­ily — mar­ried John Barrett, 83, of Bishop’s Cove. They have two sons, one daugh­ter, seven grand­chil­dren, and three great-grand­chil­dren. • Hob­bies/in­ter­ests — char­ity work; or­gan­ist at Anglican churches at Bryant’s Cove and Bishop’s Cove; crafts; knit­ting. ing Cana­dian Award, in recog­ni­tion of her “out­stand­ing and self­less con­tri­bu­tion” to her com­mu­nity and to Canada.

She also sold more than $50,000 worth of cook­books to raise funds for the Dr. H. Bliss Mur­phy Cancer Cen­tre.

Su­port­ing wor­thy causes

Gerry Benson, for­mer district sec­re­tary and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the New­found­land and Labrador district of the Cana­dian Bi­ble So­ci­ety, called the Bar­retts “a won­der­ful Chris­tian cou­ple.”

He re­called the time Enid “ was col­lect­ing for the Bi­ble So­ci­ety when light­en­ing struck the steeple of her church.”

Enid is known far and near, Benson added, for mak­ing and sell­ing “crafts for var­i­ous char­i­ties, and is al­ways ready to col­lect for wor­thy causes.”

With­out a doubt, char­ity work is where Enid shines bril­liantly.

“I love to go and help be­cause I’ve had so much help my­self,” she noted with a tear in her eye and a catch in her throat, but a song in her heart. “It does a lot for me.” She bakes bread and Christ­mas cakes to give away. She dis­trib­utes her home­made An­gels of Hope to cancer pa­tients. She knits a va­ri­ety of goods a mile-aminute, again to give away.

Rewind to the cancer pa­tient at the start of this story. Some weeks af­ter Enid gave her an An­gel of Hope, she re­ceived a phone call from the woman.

“ When you put your arms around me,” she con­fessed, “I had a heal­ing feel­ing. I went back to the cancer cen­tre, and now my lung ( has] a clean bill of health.”

Enid’s re­ac­tion? Typ­i­cally mod­est: “It’s some­thing I got to do.”

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