Focus Magazine October 2017 004

Breast cancer survivor – Rebecca Tereu


Rebecca’s story – Sharing experiences from life’s valleys

Something like an insect bite on her left breast worried Rebecca Tereu. While her concerns were dispelled by medical professionals, a persistent internal voice kept nudging her to have more tests; eventually she got a scan. The insect bite was nothing to worry about, but the scan showed up a tumour and DCIS – in the other breast.


Rebecca could not feel the lump and had no reason to think anything was wrong – after-all she was focused on other health issues at the time – but she did have reason to trust her intuition.

“I was so over going back to the doctors for tests, and just about didn’t do anything more, because who wants to spend $50 on an insect bite?” she says. “If I didn’t heed that nudge I probably wouldn’t be here today.”

It wasn’t the first time her intuition had rescued her. Rebecca was 18 when her mum took her own life. Struggling with depression and feeling desperately angry at God, Rebecca herself was suicidal, but intuition nudged her to climb a nearby hill – she was in Taupo at the time. At the top, she took in the stunning view and her perspective changed.

“I heard God speak to me and felt myself thinking ‘who am I to give up on such a beautiful life?’ I had a lot more arguments with God after that and had a lot more struggles, but I knew then that I had help. By getting closer to God, I’ve become sensitive to my intuition and it’s saved me more times than I can count.”

Kicking cancer’s butt

In 2015 Rebecca started a website called Life and Insights as a way to encourage, inspire and motivate others, through a series of articles or ‘life lessons’. After receiving her cancer diagnosis later that year she began blogging to express her stream of thoughts and fears as she came to terms with the news and faced the daunting months ahead.

She talked readers through her experience with surgery and reconstruction, further surgery to remove lymph nodes, the gruelling months of chemotherapy and ongoing complications with infections which returned her to hospital after every session.

“Chemo was the worst thing physically,” she says. “It felt like being murdered from the inside out, killing all my cells. I’ve never felt anything so invasive, but I couldn’t run away from it. I couldn’t move, everything hurt, like something in you getting vacuumed out. By the third round, I almost didn’t do it. After a few days in hospital I started to feel better so could continue with my writing.”

The Kicking Cancer’s Butt blog – honest, pithy and confronting, and often humorous – began to generate viral-like interest and Rebecca decided to keep it going, not just to discuss what she was going through, but to help other women face their fears and walk their own path.

“I think other women can relate to it because at some stage we all go through valleys – those deep, dark places. But you can’t stay in valleys and wallow; you have to keep moving. There’s a start and a finish and you have to go all the way through. For me, my valley was my diagnosis and the things I had to come to terms with before treatment, which is like the mountain at the end of the valley.

“I’ve met a lot of women who don’t know how to move forward and change their perspective when something big like cancer happens. It’s the thing they hold onto and they get dragged down. I don’t pretend to have all the answers and I’m not the master path cutter, but I’m on my own journey cutting paths, and women who identify with that are able to find the strength to move forward too.”

Process thoughts before moving on

Where her blog offers an outlet for raw expression, Rebecca’s new book, Purpose Driven, uses the valley and mountain metaphors to describe her journey with cancer, with explanations of what she needed to deal with along the way and how she did it. Whatever journey a person is on, she says, they have to stop and process thoughts and fears at imaginary ‘campsites’ and can’t move on until they’ve dealt with stuff.

“Eventually you want to bring the valleys and mountains level so that you’re not dealing with the ups and downs and crooked paths, and by flattening them, you learn to take a different perspective on life.

“Cancer will confront you with the fear of death like nothing else and when you spend time considering that, it can either make you crazy or you can get to a place of peace. I just knew that I hadn’t done everything in life yet; I still had people to help, and a family who needed me. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without my faith and trust in God.”

Find Rebecca’s blog and book at Purpose Driven is available as an e-book or hard copies can be ordered through her website.