In 2002, Andrea founded Blue Faery: The Adrienne Wilson Liver Cancer Association after losing her 15-year-old sister Adrienne, whom she raised for seven years, to stage IV liver cancer. Blue Faery’s mission is to prevent, treat, and cure primary liver cancer, specifically hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), through research, education, and advocacy.
In 2017, Andrea entered the Astellas C3 Change Cancer Care Prize. With over 160 entries from 21 different countries, the competition was fierce. Between her written application and two-minute video about Cancer U, Andrea placed in the top ten, thus making her a semi-finalist. Though she didn’t win, she knew her idea was strong enough to bring it to fruition.
In 2017, Andrea won an e-Patient scholarship for Stanford Medicine X where she presented her talk, How Euphemisms Help Us Deal With Death. More recently, she spoke to more than 100 liver cancer researchers at the Hepatobiliary Cancers: Pathology and Translational Advances conference sponsored by Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. Her presentation titled Why We Need To Choose To Cure Liver Cancer left the room speechless. Check out more speaking engagements HERE.
As a patient advocate, Andrea serves on many committees and advisory boards including NCI Hepatobiliary Task Force, Target Pharma Solutions HCC Advisory Board, and ASCO’s Systemic Therapy for Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma Guideline Panel. Andrea serves as a Consumer Reviewer on the Department of Defense’s Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program. Andrea represents Blue Faery as a member of AASLD, ASCO, Deadliest Cancers Coalition, and GI Cancers Alliance. She was formerly a member and co-chair of the awareness group of the Liver Cancer Roundtable. Currently, Andrea is the only American serving on the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network’s Liver Cancer Advisory Council. She is also a WEGO Health Expert and member of the International Coach Federation.
Andrea was one of many co-authors of The Change 12: Insights Into Self-Empowerment (Amazon 2016). She is cited as a co-author on the academic article titled Understanding the hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patient landscape: Results of the first global survey of people living with HCC (Annals of Oncology, June 2017).
In 2017, Andrea debuted her podcast Better Off Bald: A Life in 147 Days based on Andrea’s unpublished memoir about raising and losing her sister to liver cancer. In October 2019, Andrea published her memoir Better Off Bald betteroffbald.com
In Better Off Bald, Andrea Wilson Woods provides a beautifully written personal, powerful, and unvarnished rendering of the story of her sister Adrienne’s diagnosis of advanced liver cancer at age fifteen and their lives together during the subsequent months of Adrienne’s life.
Primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) is considered to be uniformly fatal, insidious in its development, aggressive in its progression, and typically resistant to conventional therapeutic interventions.
Adrienne’s story might be viewed as characteristic for this disease, at least from a clinical perspective … she was diagnosed, treated, and eventually succumbed. However, Adrienne was an exceptional young woman, strong in her resolve, who refused to stop living her life despite a relentless disease and an extremely poor prognosis.
Adrienne’s story is one that we all need to hear. It shows the shock and fear that comes with a completely unexpected diagnosis, the frustration of navigating the medical world of hospitals, physicians, and tests, and the physical exhaustion that comes with aggressive treatment.
This memoir reminds us that there is an urgent need for the biomedical research community to redouble efforts towards a more complete elucidation of the pathogenesis of liver cancer and the development [of] new therapeutic approaches.
Ultimately, this memoir is the story of two strong women … Andrea and Adrienne. Like so many cancer patient caregivers, Andrea was not merely a witness to Adrienne’s disease. She was a deeply committed, present, and caring participant in Adrienne’s life, before and after her cancer diagnosis.
It is clear that the fierce, vivacious, remarkable young woman that Adrienne became reflects the character and strong example of her sister Andrea. I regret that I did not have the good fortune to meet Adrienne in life, but I am blessed to have read her story in the pages of this book, and will benefit from her example as I strive to live life fully and completely for the rest of my days.
— WILLIAM B. COLEMAN, PHD, EXECUTIVE OFFICER AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR INVESTIGATIVE PATHOLOGY
One can never understand the pains of a patient and loved one going through hepatitis-related liver cancer. Andrea’s living and sharing with us her sister’s illness and their agony are a teaching lesson for all of us. It is a wake-up call for us to value what we have, and not to meddle with drugs. And if one is to have cancer, we’ve got to keep hope.
I always said to Andrea, who serves as one of the patient advocates of the National Cancer Institute Liver and Bile Ducts Cancers that I chair:
Through your work and dedication,
Adrienne never died.
And now Andrea, through your book, Adrienne is alive in all of us.
— GHASSAN ABOU-ALFA, MD, MBA, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE MEMORIAL SLOAN KETTERING CANCER CENTER
Andrea Wilson Woods, an advocate for cancer patients at the National Cancer Institute, introduced me to her book that described her sister’s short but brave life in battling liver cancer and the impact of her sister’s cancer on Andrea as a biological sister but a real life mother/guardian.
At first, I did not want to read this book as I am dealing with death and cancer of family members and close friends and colleagues myself. The stress and pain seem to be very stubborn and refuse to leave.
Today is a sunny day and I decided to take a read of Andrea’s book. What she described, especially the shock, the refusal to believe, the nervousness, the confusion, the unpreparedness … all resonate with my days in the hospitals and out. Time is perhaps the best medicine but can be a long medicine. I actually find reading this book calming to my mind.
Thank you Andrea for writing this book, which must be difficult, and for serving as a cancer patient advocate. Your sister would be so proud of you. I am proud of you too.
— DR. WEI ZHANG, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR CANCER GENOMICS AND PRECISION ONCOLOGY, WAKE FOREST BAPTIST COMPREHENSIVE CANCER CENTER
Readers who have dealt with or are currently dealing with a loved one’s terminal illness can find a measure of comfort in the way Andrea Wilson Woods processes her grief. She avoids being trite, yet her honesty does not come off as harsh. As she did with parenting, she strikes a delicate balance with her words and manages to be both realistic and inspirational.
Better off Bald is devastating and heartbreaking, inspiring and edifying. Most importantly, it’s real. It’s a beautifully written, insightful, page-turning book on how we connect as humans and why life – no matter how truncated – is worth living.
I highly recommend this to all people who glide through life not considering the end, but also for those looking for hope as unrealistic as it may seem at times.
— PACIFIC BOOK REVIEW
Andrea tells an extraordinary story of courage and persistence important for all patients with liver and other cancers to read. Her strength and hope continue in her perpetual fight against the disease as a tireless advocate for others facing the same devastating diagnosis.
— KABIR MODY, MD, ONCOLOGIST, MAYO CLINIC
Better Off Bald is the beautiful and painful true story of how the author lovingly shepherds her sister Adrienne through diagnosis and treatment of advanced liver cancer, striking at far too young an age.
I wish for every doctor and medical trainee to read this book.
Andrea Wilson Woods’ words bring to vivid life both the devastation — as well as moments of joy — that flooded these sisters’ lives as they navigated the medical system, faced cancer, experienced suffering and courage, and held fast to each other.
— JESSE CIVAN, MD, TRANSPLANT HEPATOLOGIST
An awe-inspiring, bare-all account of sisters Andrea and Adrienne Wilson’s five-month journey after Adrienne is diagnosed with — and dies from — liver cancer at age fifteen.
Intertwined throughout are anecdotes that explain Andrea’s obligatory “parent” role, the evolution of their supra-normal sibling bond, and how this dual dynamic helped them navigate that journey.
Despite the outcome, Adrienne beat liver cancer; Andrea tells us how her hero did just that.
— MARTY SELLERS, MD, MPH, TRANSPLANT SURGEON AND LIVER CANCER SPECIALIST, EMORY UNIVERSITY
Better Off Bald: A Life in 147 Days is a phenomenal depiction of the shock, horror, realities, and the humanity of a cancer diagnosis and battle.
Andrea Wilson Woods’ depiction of her sister’s battle with liver cancer is both heart-wrenching and warming.
As the mom of a stage IV brain cancer survivor, it was hard for me to read because it brought back so many of the emotions I experienced on our own journey. It was striking to see so many similarities, including moments of frustration, fear, love, and exquisite human tenderness.
Andrea is as brave as her sister, Adrienne, for sharing their story with such honesty and for her tireless devotion to helping liver cancer patients. Grab a tissue …
— HEATHER AMBROSE, DIRECTOR OF ACUTE CARE FIELD MEDICAL AND PATIENT ADVOCACY; BTG INTERNATIONAL, INC.; MOM OF GAVIN AMBROSE, STAGE IV BRAIN CANCER SURVIVOR
I just finished the book Better Off Bald. The author Andrea is the bravest person I know. Her book needs to be read by every healthcare professional.
I’m not going to lie, it was very difficult to read but, at the same time, I couldn’t put it down. I read the book in three days. Andrea is a gifted writer. She had me hooked. I was up all night, sobbing and all.
— DANIELLE DURAN BARON, FIBROLAMELLAR HCC SURVIVOR
This exceptional memoir presents a poignant, touching, heart-wrenching and heart-warming recounting of the author’s experience caring for her younger sister Adrienne, who is tragically diagnosed with liver cancer at the age of fifteen.
Andrea’s prose is clear, the story gripping, and the issues relevant for all who have or will experience the catastrophic illness of a loved one. Andrea’s story of her sister and her family’s journey is one of courage and commitment, told with love and honesty. Adrienne’s story challenges and inspires us, but also highlights the major global health burden due to chronic viral hepatitis — which now causes more deaths than tuberculosis, HIV, or malaria — often of young people in the prime of their lives, and is one of the unrecognized scourges of our time.
Andrea now commits a major proportion of her time in advocacy to prevent and improve treatments for viral hepatitis and liver cancer. I trust that this book will provide a realistic window into the life of a family battling one of the major health problems of our time, provide comfort and hope for those who face this unwanted intrusion in their lives, and encourage us all to support individuals, families, and communities facing the devastating effects of viral hepatitis and liver cancer. The book will hopefully motivate us to support affected persons, and also advocate for improvements in health policy that will lead to better screening for hepatitis and early-stage cancer and improved treatments to help eliminate these now completely preventable illnesses.
— LEWIS R. ROBERTS, MB CHB, PHD, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, MAYO CLINIC COLLEGE OF MEDICINE AND SCIENCE
This was a beautiful and poignant story, one that had me on the verge of tears from the moment I started reading.
Andrea and Adrienne had such a special connection that became even more solid as they spent more time together. Adrienne showed strength and determination that I don’t think many of us have. Her zest for life, her sassy yet endearing personality, and her simple needs made her a standout person.
I truly believe that Andrea was able to learn so much from her 15-year-old sister who lived her life the way she wanted to and wasn’t apologetic about it. This is an emotional read, one that told me a brilliant story while making me feel like a part of it. Kudos to the author!
— READERS FAVORITE
Wow! What a book. You are taken on a journey that I can only describe as brave yet raw, honest, positive and real. Two sisters Andrea and Adrienne have a unique, special unbreakable bond. That bond is tested to the max when Adrienne is diagnosed with cancer and, as expected, Andrea is right there by her sister’s side throughout. Yet it is Adrienne who shows everyone her inner strength, her zest for life and her determination to fight this horrid illness to the bitter end.
Here is a book that offers so much to every reader.
— NETGALLEY REVIEWER
Better Off Bald is a raw story about two sisters, one a teenager and the other barely an adult, facing cancer. Andrea Wilson Woods works hard to be the grown-up and a mother to her younger sister, Adrienne, when the diagnosis of cancer crashes down on them.
Read this book to learn what goes on in the minds of patients fighting cancer.
Ms. Wilson Woods holds nothing back and delivers a story that at times feels like you are on a roller coaster ride with these two sisters as they try to stay on track with life.
Better Off Bald will jolt you emotionally and hopefully inspire all medical professionals to do a little better, and all patients to fight a little harder.
— NICHOLAS BORYS, MD, EXECUTIVE VP AND CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF CELSION CORPORATION
The hero of this story 15-year-old Adrienne Wilson shows incredible strength and courage as she faces a diagnosis of advanced hepatocellular carcinoma with her older sister and guardian Andrea by her side.
— BORIS PASCHE, MD, PHD, FACP, DIRECTOR, COMPREHENSIVE CANCER CENTER, WAKE FOREST BAPTIST MEDICAL CENTER
Andrea doesn’t want another person to lose a loved one to HCC, and she wants the world to know Adrienne’s spirit, strength, and courage.
Andrea wants to change the cancer paradigm in the United States and she believes, to ignite change, you have to go to the source: the patient. She wants to teach cancer patients and caregivers how to become advocates for themselves so they can change their cancer journey.