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Garth Callaghan

Napkin Notes Dad




16 Months


The Napkin Notes Blog

16 Months

WGarth Callaghan

I like numbers. I feel comfortable with math. I just wrote a post entitled By The Numbers even! We're going to talk about some numbers in a very frank way this evening. I pray I can get through this and actually have the courage to post. This will take me a bit to get through the story. I hope you can make it to the end. It's important. 

I met with a new doctor last week. Nothing has changed with my health, but I feel I owe it to my family to make sure our "Plan B" (and C, D, E, F, G...) is solid, ready-to-go and agreed upon should we have to scrap Plan A. My Plan A is taking Votrient daily. It seems to be working well, although we haven't seen any improvement since June. (We also haven't seen growth or spread, so that's good!)

The new doctor spoke frankly with us, and I appreciated his candor.  We didn't dance around my health or the fact that I have metastatic kidney cancer. (That's bad, by the way!) 

He didn't want to talk about 5-year survival rates. He wanted to talk about the median lifespan. He felt that speaking about average life-span skews the numbers because there are some that will live for quite some time with no recurrence. The median is the middle. 50% of the numbers come before the middle and 50% come after the middle. 

The median life span for someone with metastatic kidney cancer to the liver is 12 months. 

(pause, breathe) 

Yeah, the blood drained from my face when I heard those words. For those of you counting, my metastasis were found in February 2014. I can do that math in my head. And I took about 0.3 seconds to realize what was being said. With the current "Plan A" we can add 3-4 months.

16 Months. 

I need a "Plan B" that's strong. We're working on it. At some point in time my current plan will lose its efficacy. The cancer, if it's still there, will grow and spread. If "Plan A" works and it's not there then we can start to talk about a longer future. Even with a successful "Plan B" I have a 50% chance of recurrence. 50%. 

Why am I sharing this seemingly bad news? I have never held back. I am open, honest, raw. This is my life. This experience with cancer is what drives me to write, to connect, to inspire. I want you to create action. Do something that matters. Write a note. Reconnect with a long lost college roommate. Mow your neighbor's lawn. Call your grandmother. Recognize someone in need and help them. Step out of your normal life for 5 minutes and make a change. 

Do not wait until your doctor looks you in the eye and delivers critical news. 

(I am NOT asking for your personal intervention for me. We're covered for now, but there are plenty of people in your community that could use a hand.) 

About The Napkin Notes Book "The point of Napkin Notes wasn't me, or even that I was dying. It was that everyone could be a Napkin Note dad. Everyone could take five minutes every day to do something special for the people they love." —NAPKIN NOTES 

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