UVA Health System Blog

Stories about the patients, staff and services of UVA


Podcast Tuesday: Breast Cancer Surgery Options [AUDIO]

On September 23, 2014 | At 9:03 am


Recipe Review Thursday: Gluten-Free Brownies

On September 18, 2014 | At 9:56 am

We’re trying new heart-healthy recipes and will share the results with you. All recipes are from Club Red, UVA’s heart health club for women.

Gluten-Free Brownies

Gluten-free brownies made with honey and almond butter

These gluten-free brownies still have the right texture and plenty of chocolate taste.

I have strict requirements for brownies. They need to be:

  • Dense and moist
  • Rich and chocolaty
  • Easy to make. Bonus points if I don’t have to do a lot of dishes afterward.

This recipe easily satisfied the third requirement, as it only took me 10 minutes to mix up the ingredients in one large bowl. I just used a spoon, not the suggested hand blender, to mix.

But I was skeptical when I saw the recipe didn’t use familiar ingredients like oil as well as flour, left out to make the brownies edible for people with gluten restrictions. I don’t have a medical reason to avoid gluten, and I don’t usually eat gluten-free.

I was even more skeptical when I saw, “The batter rises substantially during baking.” They didn’t sound likely to produce the texture I needed to satisfy my brownie craving.

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The batter does rise considerably; the brownies tend to fall a bit when they’re cooling. But this meant they did keep the dense, chewy texture I desired. They were moist and had the same texture and appearance as any other brownies. They weren’t quite as chocolaty as I’m used to, but every time I thought maybe they needed more chocolate, I bit into a mostly-melted chocolate chip.

I shared these with several people, one of whom has celiac disease. She loved the brownies; another friend ate about five in one sitting.

I’m not sure I’ll make these again unless I need a gluten-free option. They’re more expensive than traditional brownie recipes (the almond butter will set you back at least $7). If you can eat gluten, these aren’t much healthier than traditional brownies; they might have more protein per serving, but they also have more calories. But the taste and texture are almost indistinguishable, and they were a hit amongst my friends. This is worth adding to your gluten-free recipe library.

Stars: 4 out of 5

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Podcast Tuesday: How to Determine the Best Knee Replacement Option [AUDIO]

On September 16, 2014 | At 9:30 am

Filed under : Orthopedics,Podcast Tuesday | By
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The Charlottesville Women’s Four Miler: More than Just Another Race

On September 12, 2014 | At 9:52 am

The words glared from my computer monitor, mocking me: “This week should be EASY. Your training for the Four Miler is complete.”

The 2014 Women's Four Miler, a breast cancer fundraiser in Charlottesville, VA

With my mom after the 2014 Charlottesville Women’s Four Miler

The well-intended advice from the UVA Runner’s Clinic, emailed two days before the Charlottesville Women’s Four Miler, was a painful reminder that I hadn’t exactly started my training — at least not the way I had envisioned it. My runs this summer were few and far between, and I had never actually reached the four-mile mark. I also hadn’t gotten up to the 10-minute miles I’d envisioned.

I’m close to at least two breast cancer survivors. One has battled various types of cancer 10 times. Cancer, in its many forms, has taken more of my loved ones than any other diseases combined. I wanted to run the Four Miler to raise money for breast cancer research at UVA, my employer. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about how fast I ran the race.

I even shut out my own mom. We walked the Four Miler together two years ago. I told her we could both do the race, but she’d have to walk by herself.

Why We Really Run

I had knots in my stomach as I bid my mom farewell and joined a pace group of other runners expecting to do 10-minute miles. I re-tied my shoes twice and walked toward the starting line, a little sad as I looked at all the families running together: moms, daughters, sisters, aunts, some bearing the names of loved ones who had won or lost their breast cancer battles. But I focused more on my pace once we started running.

Mile One: Hey, this is pretty easy.

Mile Two: I’m not making the pace I wanted to. I need to pass more people. Hey, look, there’s my mom on the other side of the road!

Mile Three: Wow, this hill is hard.

Then I began seeing the Motivational Mile posters, which are along the last mile of the course and display the names of people affected by cancer. I recognized easily a dozen of the names. A few were acquaintances who I didn’t know were cancer survivors.

It was a much-needed reminder that yes, this race, like any other, is about fitness and personal goals. But the real reason we race is for the women who can’t. 3,500 women get up early to participate in the race because, together, they raised $370,000 for the UVA Breast Care Program last year. My mom and I are far from being top fundraisers, but in our own small way, we’ll be a part of that big dollar amount this year.

After I finished, I stood by the finish line and cheered for friends and colleagues as they finished, and finally, my mom, who finished her walk in almost exactly an hour. My time wasn’t the personal record I’d hoped for, but I didn’t really care anymore. I ran the four miles, longer than I’d ever ran before. More importantly, I was a small part of a big effort to win the battle against breast care.

Donate to the Cause

The Women’s Four Miler is accepting donations until September 22 and hopes to raise $400,000 for the Breast Care Program. So far, they’ve raised 70 percent of their goal. Help them get to $400,000.


Podcast Tuesday: Preventing and Treating PCOS [AUDIO]

On September 9, 2014 | At 10:45 am


Monthly Roundup: August 2014

On September 8, 2014 | At 11:23 am

From the nationwide spread of the Ice Bucket Challenge to the heartbreak of Robin Williams’ death, we featured some hard-hitting stories this past month.

UVA Department of Neurology ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

UVA neurologists take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

UVA In the News

Stories that made the news this month:


Podcast Tuesday: Brain Tumor Symptoms But No Tumor [AUDIO]

On September 2, 2014 | At 10:16 am

Lynchburg resident Devon Hendricks missed two weeks of work as she struggled to find a diagnosis for her headaches and vision loss. Read her story.

Filed under : Neurosciences | By
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‘A Terrible Disease’: Why We’re Taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge [VIDEO]

On August 27, 2014 | At 10:24 am

My dad doesn’t know the difference between texting and tweeting. So when I told him I had just taken the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I expected I’d have to explain just what that was. Instead he said, “Oh, that’s really cool!”

UVA Department of Neurology takes the ALS ice bucket challenge.

UVA neurologists take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

That’s when I knew this thing was everywhere.

What is ALS?

As many as 30,000 Americans have ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) right now, according to the ALS Association, but neurologist Ted Burns, MD, works with patients who didn’t know what ALS was until they were diagnosed with it.

“It’s a terrible disease,” he says.

Essentially, ALS causes the neurons that control muscle activity to degenerate and die, so they can no longer signal the muscles. The onset of muscle weakness can begin just about anywhere. Patients may initially develop weakness in the arms, legs and neck, and eventually they lose their ability to speak, swallow and breathe. Others first note trouble speaking, swallowing or breathing.

They may die within 3-5 years of developing symptoms, although Burns has patients who have had it for 20 years or longer. Why some people deteriorate faster than others is one of the many unknowns of ALS.

Where the Money Goes for ALS

There is no cure for ALS, and the one FDA-approved treatment, a drug called riluzole, only slows progression by a few months on average. Donations to the ALS Assocation fund clinical trials to find better treatments and a cure.

Researchers and doctors are also working to understand why some patients develop ALS when they have no clear genetic predisposition and what exactly ALS does to motor neurons and the cells around them.

“The money will be put to good use, but we need to keep raising money,” Burns says.

At UVA, researchers are looking at the quality of life of patients and collaborating with other ALS centers to share important clinical data to better understand the disease.

ALS Care in Charlottesville

UVA’s Richard R. Dart ALS Clinic offers physical, occupational and speech therapy, along with support from a team that also includes neurologists, nurse coordinators, social workers and nutritionists.

The clinic has about 90 patients, and Burns says the group of employees has been consistent over the last 10 to 15 years. “Very dedicated, experienced care providers,” he says.  

Watch UVA Employees Take the Ice Bucket Challenge

We’ll add more videos as more employees take the challenge. Check back or follow us on Twitter to see them!

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Podcast Tuesday: When to Consider a Hip Replacement [AUDIO]

On August 26, 2014 | At 10:09 am

Filed under : Orthopedics,Podcast Tuesday | By
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Podcast Tuesday: Treating External Iliac Arteriopathy in Avid Bicyclists [AUDIO]

On August 19, 2014 | At 10:29 am

Filed under : Exercise,Heart | By
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