Rebecca Anouche Llewellyn uses her gift of song to help herself and others. "I want to live the moment. That’s all we have," says the singer, artist and teacher.
When Rebecca Anouche Llewellyn takes to the stage to sing a chanson, people stop in their tracks. She entrances, she stirs hearts and minds, and Rebecca has even caused a few listeners to shed tears.
Rebecca sings for her life. "I sing to release all the things that are in my body that should not be there," she told a newspaper in her adopted hometown of Graz, Austria, where she enjoys star status among the residents. "My singing and my fans play an important part in my therapy."
In 2009, Rebecca was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she learned in 2014 that it had become metastatic breast cancer (MBC). The diagnosis came as a shock, but the shock and her physical condition didn’t stop Rebecca from performing: She kept all concert dates despite her treatment.
Now Rebecca works several jobs – as a Pilates teacher, an instructor at a university, and as a singer. She also travels around Europe to advocate for other MBC patients with the goal of making MBC more visible and ensuring MBC patients get the attention and understanding they need from healthcare professionals.
Rebecca says she often feels unheard and not taken seriously when she speaks with doctors and asks technical questions. "I feel like I am on a conveyer belt and not being treated personally." Because she is so full of life, people who don’t know Rebecca wouldn’t suspect what she has been through or that she is living with cancer. And she likes it that way – sometimes. Only a few friends and members of my band know about her disease.
Expectations from the outside can sometimes push Rebecca to play strong, even when she feels the opposite. "Women should have the courage to be weak, even to feel terrible and talk about it. If you don’t, it will catch up with you," Rebecca said.
Rebecca lives with an illness that is not curable but nonetheless doctors cannot estimate how long she will survive. She has come to terms with this uncertainty and says uncertainty is actually the best mindset for living a happy and fulfilled life. "I want to live the moment. That’s all we have. I don’t want this illness to take over my life."
As Rebecca focuses on living in the here and now, she shares this life wisdom through her song, her art, and her advice for other patients.
"It’s the process of creative production that helps. Find an outlet, find some place to release or express what you’re going through. I found it in art," she said.
"I sing out my cancer."