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Garth Callaghan

Napkin Notes Dad

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Napkin Notes - The Next Chapter

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The Napkin Notes Blog

Napkin Notes - The Next Chapter

WGarth Callaghan

Napkin Notes: Make Lunch Meaningful, Life Will Follow

It's real. I have been reluctant to share this part of my journey because it seemed so unbelievable. However, I have been paging through my advance copy. It's real. I can hold it in my hands. I can sense the weight of the paper, and turn the pages. I can read my words.

On Feb 26, I met with a team at HarperCollins. They were interested in hearing my story. I was hoping and praying for the time to be able to tell it. Little did they know I was going to drop a small bombshell when we started. "I have cancer again. It's my fourth diagnosis. We have a plan, but let's face it, statistically, patients like me have an 8% 5-year survival rate."  

The meeting paused. Someone picked up the phone and called Memorial Sloan Kettering, the country's best kidney cancer center. HarperCollins showed me that they cared about me as a person first. 

I did go to MSK a couple of weeks later. I was able to confirm a treatment plan. But that's not what this part of the story is about. 

I was deeply touched by the concerned actions of the team at HarperCollins. They saw me as a person. They were interested in our story. I was interested in sharing it. We went about working on this project. I was committed to finishing as quick as possible. After all, I have Stage IV kidney cancer. I am well aware of time passing. I wanted to see this project to completion. 

We went to work. I'll be frank. It was harder than I thought it would be. I am a positive and happy man today, but writing about telling Emma I had cancer for the first time was nearly impossible. I had to dredge up memories that we're pushed into the back of my mind. It was gut wrenching and painful. The first year or so after that initial diagnosis was dark. Writing about it was a challenge. (and oh, by the way, I was in treatment, fighting nausea, fatigue, etc. It wasn't the best environment for storytelling!) 

We turned in the first draft in early June and I still didn't share that here. Why? It wasn't 'real' to me yet. It became real when I opened up my copies just a few days ago. It became real when I saw it up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Crazy, right? 

Last week I found out that the book will be translated into complex Chinese and sold in China. That's the latest in the list that includes Brazil, Portugal, The Netherlands, Mozambique, Angola, South Korea, and Germany. Crazy, right? 

Lissa, Emma, and I are literally walking around our home wondering how we have become so blessed. 

I hope the story will do two things: 

  • Inspire parents (& everyone else, too!) to write notes on a regular basis. I believe in my heart this will make a difference in any relationship
  • Inspire cancer patients to fight like hell. It's a battle against something that doesn't fight fairly and we need strength and support

If you know someone that could use some inspiration in their life, please click here