Napkin Notes: How Sharing Words – and Health Information – Can Leave a Legacy

What is something that you do to show your kids that you love them dearly?

Something that my mom would do was leaving a treat on my pillow if I was having a bad day. I would open the door to my room, and I would be greeted by one of my favorite candies as it sat on my pillow, accompanied with a note that told me how much she loved me.

My dad was never really into the premeditated pillow snacks, but if I was a little hurt or stressed, he'd take me out to the gas station and we'd get Logs (salted peanuts dumped in a bottle of root beer).

For Garth Callaghan, PatientsLikeMe ambassador, author of the book and blog Napkin Notes, and current cancer fighter, leaving little notes written on napkins in his daughter's lunch has been his love-expressing method of choice.

Early in his daughter, Emma's, life, Garth's napkin notes were somewhat infrequent. But when the diagnosis came that he was stricken with cancer, he decided that the notes he left for Emma should be more frequent and more insightful.

“I used the notes to communicate values and to help [Emma] grow up to become a strong, confident young woman,” said Garth in an interview with EverydayFamily. “Unfortunately, when I was diagnosed with cancer, the notes took on a completely different meaning. And I started to look at the napkin notes as potentially leaving a legacy behind.” 

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From the day of his diagnosis, Garth has had the goal to have every one of Emma's lunch hours greeted with a napkin note. In anticipation of the day cancer takes him from his family, Garth has gone ahead and written over 800 napkin notes, one for each day until Emma graduates high school.

While the love that Garth has for his daughter is extremely evident in his notes, I hold out hope that he will be the person that places the napkin in Emma's lunch on the day she graduates from high school — I would imagine that both Callaghan and Emma would prefer the same as well. 

On top of the monetary donations that researchers need, they also need information — medical information.

In order for there to be a cure for cancer, whether it be prostate or kidney cancer (cancers that Garth is suffering from), there needs to be more and more research. On top of the monetary donations that researchers need, they also need information — medical information. That's why PatientsLikeMe is working to gather medical records from as many as possible, so that they can move forward with their research.

If you want to donate your medical records to PatientsLikeMe, you can go to their website and create a free profile. If you're concerned about confidentiality, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Garth made it very clear in our interview that all of your personal information would be stripped away from the medical information, so all that would be left would be the data and not the personal information attached to it. 

{ MORE: Do You Know a Child with Cancer? Here's How to Give Them a Free Year of Joy }

For information about PatientsLikeMe, click here. If you're interested in reading Garth's book or reading his blog, click here.

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Napkin Notes: How Sharing Words – and Health Information – Can Leave a Legacy

Jace Whatcott is a self-diagnosed introvert who loves crossword puzzles, golf, and reading. Despite being a male contributor—one of the few on this particular website—he is not in unfamiliar territory. Because he is an English major, 90% of his classmates are females, so he’s not too worried about being a fish out of water. One of his favorite things to do is to raid local thrift stores for used books. He’s always looking for something to read, or for something to put on his endless to-r ... More

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