Deltra Kroemer, Caryn Sullivan and Ann Gootee to Keri Wiginton
How have you adjusted to your diagnosis over time?
delta: After my initial shock wore off, I knew I wanted to focus on living, not dying. I want to make meaningful connections with those around me and in the cancer community.
Karin: I have accepted it.Around the same time as Disney, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer frozen in the theater. I cried when I heard the princess sing “Let It Go,” thinking it was a mantra I should embrace.
install: This is not a linear journey. There are ups and downs, progress and setbacks. Patience is needed and often hard to come by. A nap is required most days.
What makes you feel better on tough days?
delta: Keep a journal and connect with others. Knowing that I am not alone has helped me a lot.
Karin: Little things always make me smile, whether looking at our days, Snuggle up on the sofa with your son, or sit by the sea and watch the water. My son and I created the “Gratitude Game” so we can focus on the things we are grateful for each day.
install: Pray and chat with my closest friends or family. Walking in nice weather can also help.
Is there anything easier to do after the diagnosis?
delta: I am the queen of self-care right now. I don’t feel guilty about taking breaks or pushing myself to do more.
Karin: I rarely wear a bra and I love it.
install: When I get out of the shower, I can get ready pretty quickly. I don’t have to blow dry and style my hair. And I don’t have to worry about my brows anymore because I have microblading.
Has cancer changed the way you think about your body in any positive way?
delta: My diagnosis initially made me feel like my body had betrayed me. But now I say love and life to my body every day. I’m in awe of its power and capabilities. I know better that this is the only body I get. I hug it, pamper it, enjoy it.
Karin: I started to find physical beauty in other parts of my body, not my hair or boobs, which I used to think were my better features.
install: Not really. But I laugh when people ask me how long it takes to prepare. With chemo and hair loss, I can be ready very quickly.
Is there anything you used to worry about but you let go of?
delta: I don’t worry so much about what my body looks like because I care so much about what’s going on inside it. I certainly don’t worry about what others think of how I choose to live my life.
Karin: Cancer—whether it’s the first or the second—brings clarity to me. During the cancer decision process, it was easy to let go of the things I couldn’t control and focus on the things I could do.
install: Gain weight! Many medications and treatments can cause weight gain. I used to be very active; I worked out 5 days a week. Over time, my workouts turned into long walks, and only on days when I had more energy. I continue to eat a healthy diet, but I can’t be bothered with a few pounds.
Have you made any changes to your body or your life that would not have occurred before your diagnosis?
delta: I reject negative body talk and thinking. I’ve stopped putting off the things I want to do. I reassessed relationships and let go of the ones that were not only not doing me good, but were hurting me.
Karin: I embrace health wholeheartedly. I eat plant-based foods, sleep longer, exercise regularly, and do small mindfulness practices throughout the day.
install: I try to continue eating a healthy diet and exercising as much as possible.
How has your perspective on life changed?
delta: I don’t live like that all the time in the world anymore. I think everyone is doing it too much.
Karin: I take care of myself holistically, which means not just one area of health, but many areas. I value a healthy lifestyle because it’s something I can control when it comes to treatment.
install: I am more aware of the importance of my relationships with my spouse, family and friends. I’ll be quicker to say I love you at the end of the conversation than just to my husband and stepkids. I have best friends and we’ll never hang up without saying I love you.
What advice do you have for someone who has just learned that they have metastatic breast cancer?
delta: Breathe, feel what you feel, and say it out loud. Then raise your head and raise your voice. Advocate for yourself and connect with the cancer community. They understand exactly what you’re going through, and their advice can be your lifesaver.
Karin: The practical advice I would give is to make sure you get a second or even a third opinion, even if you like your doctor. I’ve learned a lot from the many conversations I’ve had with cancer.
install: Take a deep breath and learn all you can about this disease. Be your own advocate. If you need a second opinion, please do not hesitate to discuss it with your doctor. It’s your body and your life.
What advice do you have for friends or family members of people with metastatic breast cancer?
delta: Respect and support the choices your loved ones make for themselves. And don’t put a burden on them by saying to contact them if they need anything. Just jump in and be a help. can also find and contact a support group for you.
Karin: Knowing your audience means thinking about what patients want. Be proactive and think of ways you can help. In the meantime, offer cheerfully but don’t push yourself.
install: Get in touch and offer your support. But let patients decide what and when they want to tell you about their diagnosis, treatment and progress. I’m so excited to share my journey with this disease. However, I’ve heard from some of my friends in the support group that their knowledge of this information is much tighter.
Is there anything else you would like people with metastatic breast cancer to know?
delta: I’ve learned to appreciate the little things and act incredible because I don’t know what the future holds. I realized that experiences and connections with others are the most important things in this life.
Karin: I try to live with a gesture of love. I want to be with the people I love, do activities I love, and want to show how we can find joy in any difficulty if we focus on kindness and positivity.
install: If you can find a support group for MBC, I suggest you join. It really helps to talk to other people who have been diagnosed with this disease. Finally, try to keep a sense of humor. It can sometimes help defuse a situation for you and those around you.
About Delta: Deltra Kroemer, 34, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2019.Cromer is for our breasts, a website and community for women of color affected by breast cancer. She lives in Waterbury, Connecticut.
About Karin: Caryn Sullivan, 47, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2013. Sullivan is the founder of the Pretty Wellness website and the author of the book happiness in suffering, and host of the podcast of the same name. She lives in Fairfield, Connecticut.
About Ann: Ann Gootee, 68, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2019. Gootee lives in Glen Ellyn, IL with her husband of 37 years.