• Echo tech helps young breast cancer patient

Ingalls Echo Tech Faces Breast Cancer That Strikes Young Women, Too

Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. It strikes women of all ages. Chrys Mirabella, a 41-year-old Ingalls employee, is a perfect example of an unlikely victim.

Her story began in the summer of 2014 when she noticed a lump in her right breast. After a visit to her primary doctor, Bella Prospero, M.D., she was immediately sent for a diagnostic mammogram with ultrasound.

A biopsy soon followed, and then Chrys was given the news she was dreading: breast cancer. With no family history, illness, or symptoms of the disease, Chrys says her diagnosis “came out of the blue and was a complete shock.”

“I turned 40 in May, and by July my life had fallen apart,” she admits.

But the energetic and positive cardiac sonographer spent little time dwelling on it. She met with her team of doctors who, with careful consideration, recommended a double mastectomy as the best course of action to reduce the risk of recurrence, especially since imaging showed other areas of concern in her breast.

With the support of her husband Jim and five children, Chrys underwent a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction in September of 2014. Her treatment team included a panel of Ingalls experts: oncologist James Wallace, M.D.; general/cancer surgeon Gary Peplinski, M.D.; plastic/reconstructive surgeon Sami Bittar, M.D.; and gynecologist Jacqueline White, M.D.

After a two-day hospital stay, Chrys went home to recover. In October, she began four rounds of chemotherapy, finishing up her last treatment on New Year’s Eve. Chrys also took preventive measures and opted for an elective hysterectomy in February 2015. For the next five years, she will continue taking a daily medication called Aromasin to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence. Her breast reconstruction surgeries – four in all – are nearly complete, and should be finished by year’s end.

“It was a long journey for Chrys,” says her Non-Invasive Cardiology Supervisor Lorrie Kranz, “but through it all, she’s been phenomenal. You would never have known she was battling this from day to day. She never missed a beat. She’s been an inspiration to all of us. And as much as her coworkers were supportive of her, she was supportive of them too. She knew everyone was feeling bad for her, and at times, she was the one consoling them.”

“Yes, the big hurdles are past but there are still hurdles that need to be jumped,” Chrys adds. “While I didn’t feel the greatest physically at times, mentally I stayed strong, and that has everything to do with my support systems.

For me, the key has been maintaining as much of a normal life as possible.” That means working, teaching, keeping a routine, exercising and eating healthier than ever before. The Crown Point, Ind., resident is also grateful to be an Ingalls patient – and an Ingalls employee.

“Chances are, if I hadn’t worked at Ingalls, I would have gone all the way to Chicago for my care,” she says. “Ingalls Cancer Care is amazing; from the scheduling department to the transportation team, the technicians (mammography, ultrasound, nuclear), nurses, doctors and the entire staff.

The compassion and patient care were nothing short of excellent. I will always be eternally grateful.”

Success Stories
  • Title

    Inspirational stories of courage and hope

Progress Magazine