During a recent PW Podcast episode, we spoke with Andrea Wilson Woods, President, Founder, and Founding Director of Blue Faery: The Adrienne Wilson Liver Cancer Association. Following is a summary of that interview:
Tell us about Blue Faery
Blue Faery: The Adrienne Wilson Live Cancer Association’s mission is to prevent, treat, and cure primary liver cancers, specifically hepatocellular carcinoma, through research, education, and advocacy. I started Blue Faery after losing my sister, whom I raised from the time she was 8 years old, to primary liver cancer at age 15. She was unexpectedly diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer a month after her 15th birthday. In retrospect, she had what were considered two typical symptoms: acid reflux and right shoulder pain, from the nerve that goes from the liver all the way up to the right shoulder.
Tell us about the book you wrote
I wrote “Better Off Bald: A Life in 147 Days” as my medical memoir chronicling Adrienne’s 147-day battle with primary liver cancer (betteroffbald.com). It’s written like a journal because I kept a medical journal when Adrienne was ill and she started a journal before she was sick that she kept going. Readers see her point of view as the patient and also mine as the caregiver. The theme is to live life to its fullest, and that is what Adrienne did. When she got her diagnosis, it was as if she wrote a bucket list and said, “I’m going to do everything I’d always wanted to do,” and she did almost everything.
Tell us about Blue Faery’s public awareness campaign
In addition to learning from our experiences through the book, patients can benefit from Blue Faery’s Love Your Liver public awareness campaign, which ran the entire month of February. The campaign explains to the public that liver cancer is one of the deadliest cancers worldwide, but also one the most preventable cancers, and that the best way to stop it is to prevent it before it happens. Through videos that were released every day in February, we discussed different types of liver disease that are common and can lead to liver cancer; the fact that symptoms are often undetected or overlooked and not connected to the cancer or don’t develop until later stages of the disease because there are not pain receptors in the liver; and that patients often don’t feel pain until the liver has grown so large that it’s pressing on other organs. While the goal of the campaign was and is to raise public awareness, it is also to raise awareness among primary care providers, who can find more information at loveyourliver.us.