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New Lymph Node Mapping breast cancer procedure debuts in Alexandria

Has the cancer spread? That's the fear for anyone who is fighting breast cancer. But a new procedure called Spy Phi is helping to answer the question and save lives.

"This is the area of the body where the lymph nodes are underneath the arm," said breast cancer surgeon Dr. David Weintritt as he pointed to a large green dot on a screen.

The dot is the lymph node closest to the breast cancer lump Judy Short had removed last month. Her husband, Tom is an optimistic guy.

"And Tom, for sure said 'Don't worry,'" Judy said referring to her husband of 43 years.

"I'm a Pollyanna. I always think things are going to work out for the best," said Tom Short.

Dr. Weintritt, founder of the National Breast Foundation, performed the new Spy Phi procedure along with Judy's lumpectomy at Inova Mt. Vernon Hospital on April 25, 2017.

"She was the very first patient in the world to have lymph node mapping using a new device called Spy Phil," said Weintritt.

Spy Phi uses low laser technology and fluorescent dye which finds and lights up lymph nodes which aren't always easy for surgeons locate.

Colors show the clear perimeter of a node.

"This color, which we would normally not see, but we're seeing with the use of this camera, in the near-infrared spectrum, I telling me, without a doubt, that I have removed the entire lymph node," said Weintritt.

The procedure delivered good news to Judy and Tom.

"It was clear of cancer. So that was very good news. It was a relief. And I'm very happy to have been the first patient, and that it worked out," said Judy Short.

"I was happy that she was the Guinea pig. Anything that would give her even further assurance, which this did, that she was going to be alright forever!" Tom, the optimist declared.

The world-travelers did have to postpone an African Safari, but they are making plans to travel to the Balkans soon.