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Garth Callaghan

Napkin Notes Dad




Peaks and Valleys


The Napkin Notes Blog

Peaks and Valleys

WGarth Callaghan

I’ve seen peaks and valleys this past week. I’m remembering events from a year ago. It was an anniversary week of sorts.  During this week last year, the Richmond Times Dispatch ran an article about Napkin Notes. It was the first time our story had been shared in a broad way. It was really exciting. Readers around central Virginia learned about my passion for Napkin Notes and my parenting style. Emma had a couple of softball games that afternoon. It was a great day.

Five days later I received a phone call from Dr. Bradford. Unfortunately, the scan I had a few days earlier showed a growth on my adrenal gland. We didn’t bother with a biopsy. The adrenal gland rests on top of the kidney, and there was no reason to believe it wasn’t kidney cancer. We scheduled a surgery to cut it out. After all, humans have two adrenal glands and can live with just one. (That’s what they said about my kidney, too. I have often wondered how many parts I can lose before it becomes an issue!)

The pathology was less than promising. It confirmed that the tumor was kidney cancer. It also confirmed that it wasn’t removed with clean margins. I probably had microscopic kidney cancer cells floating around in my body. Great. Stage IV. Fantastic.

This report led to subsequent specialist visits and hearing those dreaded words, “Mr. Callaghan, you’re going to die from this.”

As I remember my peaks and valleys from a year ago, I can reflect on the peaks and valleys during the week. I’ve truly struggled with side effects. I am exhausted, extremely nauseated, and have suffered bloody noses that were so bad I almost visited the Emergency Room. There were a couple of nights I was in bed for 12 hours!

On a really positive note, I was able to speak to a group of golfers participating in a local American Cancer Society Golf Tournament and share my ideas of “little big things” like Napkin Notes. I made some significant progress on my next (still somewhat secret!) two projects. I can’t wait to share what I am working on!

I also learned that my book, “Napkin Notes” was going to be translated into Japanese and sold in Japan! (I think the full list includes Brazil, Portugal, Mozambique, Angola, The Netherlands, Germany, China and Japan.) I still have a difficult time wrapping my head around the book.

Lastly, I was able to help a family from my hometown of Port Leyden and make my mom happy at the same time. I donated a copy of the book for auction. They were raising money for someone battling cancer. They helped me back in April and I wanted to be able to continue that blessing.

Little did they know I had a second objective. I had a good feeling that my mom would be at the auction. I also knew that she might go crazy bidding for the book. You see, she hasn’t read a single sentence of the book and it’s driving her crazy. She found out that I had donated a book, the only copy in the general public, and I asked her not to bid on it. I asked her to trust me. I am sure she was frustrated with my request.

I had made secret arrangements with an old high school friend to bid on my behalf. I wanted to help in any way I could. And I told him to win that item. I also requested that the auctioneer hand the book to my mom once the bidding was finished.

I received two texts from her afterwards. “Thank you, Love Mom” and “You must love to make your mother cry.” I don’t, but I sure like to give her a surprise now and then!

I am beginning to think high peaks and low valleys are the best way to describe my life. But boy, those peaks are wonderful! See you at the top of the next mountain!