What A Blip
A look behind the curtain of a devastating diagnosis and finding the joy of living again.
It isn't what happens to you, it's what you do when it happens.
Through the trauma of breast cancer Alicia Garey came out of the writing closet to share her experience and how she restored her balance. Facing the challenges of motherhood, running an interior design business while also being a wife, daughter, sister and friend, Alicia celebrates the gift of life through a new lens, and finds the joy by seeing the light in her darkest hours.
Alicia dedicates her story to all of us who have or will face a terrifying life challenge. As far as she can tell, the challenges do indeed come our way, and we learn from them.
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While it deals frankly with the author’s experiences it is not too 'scary', and contains lots of positivity, not least the fact that, by the end of the account, the author has come through breast cancer and is looking forward. I gave it five stars because it really appealed to me; I think I would have found it reassuring and helpful when I was going through or just finishing treatment. ~ Breast cancer survivor (46-55) (August 2015), Macmillan Cancer Support
What's a guy like me doing reading a memoir about breast cancer? I'm interested in literature in general and memoirs in particular, and like all good memoirs, this is an unabashed look inside someone else's life experience, by turns grueling and uplifting. Told with deft sensitivity and emotional clarity, it's a journey inside the mind and soul of a wise, funny, compassionate young-to-middle-aged wife and mother. As the subtitle suggests, it largely consists of journal entries - and might have benefited from having more straightforward narrative sections interspersed here and there. But then again, the book is so readable and takes such a light touch to such a seemingly deep, dark subject that perhaps a more conventional narrative arc would have bogged it down. (It's so real and unaffected and defiantly funny that the last third of chapter titles in the Table of Contents is crossed out!) What this book is not: a heartrending storybook account from "is that a lump?" to "Praise God, I'm healed!" - or anything nearly so predictable and clichéd. Neither is it bossy or prescriptive. What it is: refreshingly frank and personable. Though it is one person's very particular experience, it is sufficiently open-minded and life-affirming to have a universal appeal. After all, this could be anyone's story, but nobody I know of has told one like this before. ~ Ben Mattlin, Author, Miracle Boy Grows Up
Alicia Garey has written a very touching, intimate book about her courageous battle with breast cancer. I, like she once did, have always considered the "c" word something that happens to other people. Garey's book is a reminder it can happen to anyone, regardless of history and healthy lifestyle. From the anxiety-ridden self-talk she experiences during diagnosis to the snowballing awakening to her new reality throughout her prognosis and treatment, we realize through Garey's eyes all we take for granted when we are healthy. We realize how the desperation of uncontrollable crisis demands controlled positive thoughts and compassion toward self when we "lose it". We realize just how eternal a challenge can feel and seem until suddenly, things change again. Until you go through this experience yourself or with someone very close to you, the reality of it is simply impossible to imagine and easy to dismiss...a blip. Garey's book eradicates this common ignorance by showing just how life-altering and pivotal a blip! She places the reader right there with her creating an empathic connection that is bound to carry forward the next time one hears of someone diagnosed. Then perhaps, we will be better prepared to offer our support. ~ Dielle Ciesco, Author, Your True Voice: Tools to Embrace a Fully Expressed Life
Brilliant, gutsy and vivid, this book pulls you into every moment of Alicia Garey’s breast cancer experience and makes it your own. It’s mesmerizing reading, but it ain’t pretty. Whether you’ve got breasts or not, you’re going to feel that biopsy, and it hurts. Cancer is vicious. As Garey puts it: “This is treacherous… This is bend on your knees please God don’t do this to me surrender.” Garey’s writing is so raw and in your face that it makes the chemo, the hair loss and everything that follows come brutally alive. Readers should be prepared with tissues, because just hearing how she shared her diagnosis with her friends at her synagogue brought tears to my eyes. “What a Blip!” is based on the journal she wrote before, during and after her surgery, and it’s filled with numerous short entries of all kinds: painful descriptions of needles, nausea and anxious nights; emails she sent to various people, such as the one telling her mother to please not be so damn rude about her wig; positive affirmations she tried, and the despairing thoughts that stubbornly and predictably surfaced anyway. “My stupid little breasts. I hate them.” We feel for those poor wounded breasts, and their owner, too -- and for her kids and her wonderful husband. And we soak up every moment of her dread. What a relief when she learns that the chemo has cleared away her tumors! Her fear that they may return, and the guilt for being one of the lucky ones to survive – these we recognize as shadowy guests in the hotel of our own mind. Despite the success of the chemo she needs lumpectomies anyway, and I must tell you that I DIDN’T WANT TO READ ABOUT THE SURGERY because just the pre-surgery procedure was enough to make me want to faint. But I got through it all, and finally enjoyed her story like a rollercoaster that goes so fast the wind distorts your face. But I’m so glad I took the ride, for it left me uplifted, more deeply human, and better emotionally prepared – I can hope – for any calamities that life may put on my plate. “One or two people said that I would look back on all of this and it would be a ‘blip’. This is one hell of a blip.” And this is one hell of a wonderful book. I’m thankful that due to her courageous guts, the grace of God and advances in medical science she came through a survivor, and was able to give us all this precious message of hope and messy human triumph in a bottle. God bless you, Alicia Garey. May you live to be 110. You deserve that. ~ Ram Das Batchelder, Author, Rising in Love: My Wild and Crazy Ride to Here and Now, With Amma, The Hugging Saint
Alicia Garey's What a Blip: A Breast Cancer Journal of Survival and Finding the Wisdom, is an amazing journey of a courageous women facing cancer, told in a way to educate, inspire, and even find some light humor in her bleak situation. I love the way she connects with her reader, telling first hand how her experience affected her from a physical, mental, and spiritual standpoint. She discusses the little things that aren't so little that cancer survivors have to think about, giving the reader better insight and perspective on how to empathize and connect with those they love who may be facing the same situation. This book is a straightforward account of Alicia's experience and her raw and honest words that she shares is a gift to those who are newly diagnosed and currently fighting the battle, or the support systems whose loved ones are having a similar experience. Through her journey of healing, she is able to heal and positively impact others, and this book is a beautiful example of how an individual's challenges can inspire and empower others. ~ Melissa Escaro, Author, In10Tions: A Mindset Reset Guide to Happiness
Alicia is a wonderful writer. Really insightful, funny, tragic and inspiring. Bravo! ~ Lauren Culp, MFT, Author, Past President of the Global Association for Interpersonal Neurobiology Studies, Founding Member of Walking-In-Your-Shoes
An achingly beautiful, heartfelt look into a year in the life of a mother, wife, sister and daughter as she battles breast cancer with humility, honor, grace and humor. A tour de force. Can't wait to see what comes next from this amazingly honest and insightful writer. ~ Carlie Ramer, Poet
A genuinely wise and funny account of living through breast cancer and finding meaning on the other side. Alicia puts into words what so many women on the unexpected journey through cancer feel and never say; this book gives solace to all who wonder - is it just me? A truly sensitive and inspired story, told with great warmth and generosity of spirit by a gifted writer. ~ Kauser Ahmed, PhD, clinical psychologist Simms/Mann - UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology
Alicia Garey’s “What a Blip” takes you on an honest and at times uncomfortable journey of the challenges one faces with cancer, while giving an in depth, soulful look at not only this disease but the inner fears that arise and the fortitude it takes to stay focused on the result and accept nothing less. Alicia gives direction and tips on how to achieve success, and explores the courage it took to look this massive wild animal in the eye head on without ever backing down. "What a Blip" is heart wrenching, endearing, and gives any woman who is facing or diagnosed with cancer extraordinary hope. ~ Amy Gibson, Founder and Client CreatedHair.com, Leading Hair Loss Consultant and Wig Designer in the U.S., Alopecia Activist, Talk Show Host, Producer
Alicia Garey's brutally honest look at her battle with breast cancer is equal parts warm and chilling, gritty and poetic, gut-wrenching and funny. From her darkest days to her emergence on the other side, this beautifully powerful writer will sear herself onto your soul and leave you with love, gratitude and above all, hope. ~ Monica Piper - comedian, writer, fellow survivor.