Garth has been diagnosed with cancer 4 times in the past three years, once with prostate cancer, the other three times with kidney cancer. He is currently under treatment and battling metastatic kidney cancer.
When his daughter Emma was in kindergarten, Garth started to write an inspirational note on a napkin and tuck it away in her lunch box. When he was diagnosed with cancer a third time, he was worried he may not live to see Emma graduate from high school. But he wanted to continue the napkin note tradition. So he set out to write all of the notes Emma would need to see her through to graduation, just in case. He wrote 826 napkin notes in all. Today they’re stored in a special box for safe keeping.
Garth’s new book, Napkin Notes: Make Lunch Meaningful, Life Will Follow, has been published by HarperCollins. New Line Cinema is planning to turn it into a movie.
Garth lives with his wife of 18 years, Lissa, and Emma in Virginia. He wakes up each day looking to inspire other parents to write napkin notes to their children, and to inspire cancer patients to fight and live well!
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone - 804.480.4127
Website - www.napkinnotesdad.com (Wait, you're already here! Why did we even put this up??)
Facebook - facebook.com/napkinnotes
Twitter - @napkinnotesdad
Tumblr - napkinnotesdad.tumbler.com
Pinterest - pinterest.com/napkinnotesdad
Instagram - napkinnotesdad
Garth's book, Napkin Notes: Make Lunch Meaningful, Life Will Follow is available in the USA at:
The book is being translated into Portuguese, Italian, German, Dutch, Polish, Russian, Japanese, Indonesian, Korean and Chinese and will be available to purchase worldwide.
When did Garth start writing Napkin Notes to Emma? Garth started writing notes to Emma and placing them in her lunch while she attended kindergarten. As Emma grew older, the note writing became a daily practice.
When did the Napkin Notes take on new meaning? There were three events that brought new meaning to Napkin Notes. The first time was when Emma was in third or fourth grade. Garth had just finished packing Emma's lunch, and as she scooped up the lunch bag, she noticed there wasn't a note inside. Garth wasn't slacking off. He just hadn't written the note yet. Emma walked over to him, looked up, and simply asked, "Napkin Note?" From that moment on, Garth made it a daily ritual. When Garth was diagnosed with cancer for the first time in 2011, his future was uncertain. Everything seemed to go back to 'normal' after a successful surgery. A few months later, Garth discovered Emma's small composition book in which she was saving the notes that her dad had written. As Garth paged through this keepsake, he realized that this was his legacy, his gift to Emma. When Garth was diagnosed with metastatic kidney cancer, his third cancer diagnosis, his doctors began to have serious discussions surrounding lifespan and survivability. As Garth contemplated his future, he decided to write out a total of 826 Napkin Notes, one for each day of school until Emma would graduate. These notes have been kept in safe keeping in the event that Garth isn't around to write a note himself.
When was Garth diagnosed with cancer? Garth was diagnosed with kidney cancer in November 2011. He has subsequently been diagnosed with metastatic kidney cancer in October 2013 and February 2014. He was also diagnosed with cancerous prostate cells in August 2012.
What is Garth's prognosis? Garth and his family don't pay a lot of attention to graphs and charts. They focus on each day, each week and each month as they come. Statistically speaking, patients battling metastatic kidney cancer have a median lifespan of 12 months.
What inspired Garth to write a book? Garth always felt that sharing Napkin Notes was his calling, especially after finding Emma's composition book. As he looked through it, he was inspired to share this practice with other parents so that they would also write daily notes to their children. After the 826 Napkin Notes story went viral, he was contacted by a few publishers who showed interest. Garth was happy to write the book knowing it might inspire parents and cancer patients alike!
What's next for Garth and his family? Garth is now speaking, hoping to bring inspiration and motivation around the world. New Line Cinema has purchased the rights to the Napkin Notes book, and they are working with the Callaghans to bring this story to the silver screen. Garth also speaks frequently on sharing health data and patient advocacy.
Appearances, Interviews, and Talks
Forbes Medical Conference http://onforb.es/1AyIy8u
The Today Show http://goo.gl/rF4e3K
Rachel Ray http://goo.gl/4IPA9E
TEDx RVA http://goo.gl/biL3N8
NPR's "Here & Now" http://goo.gl/YW4I2f
The Author's Corner on Public Radio
US News and World Reports (Health Data Article): http://goo.gl/Bd5n0S
The Telegraph (United Kingdom): http://goo.gl/T9Wg3z
Time Magazine (Health Data): http://goo.gl/tGE8rB
Richmond Times Dispatch - Dad stays connected through Napkin Notes: http://goo.gl/8odzxp
Richmond Times Dispatch - Napkin Notes dad Garth Callaghan talks about his life: http://goo.gl/np4NFS
Garth is very active in the cancer community, volunteering for the American Cancer Society whenever possible. He has spoken at events for both LINC (Legal Information Network for Cancer patients) and the American Cancer Society. Garth has also started a foundation, The Napkin Notes Foundation. He'll be announcing new things about the foundation soon!