Dr Oz: Dad With Cancer Writes Daughter Daily Lunchbox Notes


Dr Oz: Dad Writes Daughter Lunchbox Notes

Dr Oz shared the incredibly touching story of father-daughter duo, Garth and Emma Callaghan. Garth shared that he wanted to do something special for his daughter, but admitted there was no purpose to it when Emma was in kindergarten. “It was just something extra,” Garth said.

Dr Oz: Dad With Cancer Writes Daughter Daily Lunchbox Notes

Dr Oz shared the incredible story of a father diagnosed with cancer who writes his daughter daily notes that he puts inside her lunch box. (Donatas / Shutterstock.com)


He said the moment things changed is when he realized that Emma was actively looking for the lunchbox notes every day, and by then she was in the third or fourth grade. Garth told himself that if he was going to write something, it was going to have a purpose.

He was diagnosed with kidney cancer for the first time in November 2011 when Emma was in sixth grade and had just turned 12. He had surgery days before Christmas, but made sure to write Emma a note for her first day back at school, no matter how poor he was feeling. A month or two after that he realized that Emma had been saving the notes, knowing that each note could be the last.

Dr Oz: Dad Inspires Daughter With Daily Notes

Emma said her dad is trying to get her to be a better person and is helping her along the way. Garth had an unspoken promise with Emma that he would always make her lunch and would always write a note. Last fall he was diagnosed with cancer for the third time, and Emma was supposed to graduate five years from that time. His five-year survival prognosis was about 8%. He realized that he needed to write more notes and make sure she had enough to last through high school graduation. He counted out how many days there were until graduation and started to write notes. He made it to 826, which was how many school days Emma had left until graduation.


As he was writing the notes, he realized that it was one way he could control his disease and ensure that he could still be around even after he passes. Emma says the notes are a part of her dad that she will always have. Garth doesn’t know how long he has, but knows that life is about the little things with his daughter. He said he can only hope that he’ll be able to see Emma write notes to her kids.

Dr Oz: ‘Napkin Notes’ & Life Lessons

Dr Oz welcomed Garth and Emma to his stage. Garth shared that at the end of the day, he wants his daughter to be herself, because he wasn’t a confident teenager. Emma said her favorite note was the one where her dad shared a story of when she was younger and her friend Collin said to her ,”I’ll save you,” and she said “No, I’ll save myself.” At the bottom of the note it said, “Be that girl.”

Emma is actually writing notes back to her dad and one note said ,”Dear dad, if all my friends jumped off a bridge it would be because I told them to. I’m a leader, not a follower.”

Lisa, Emma’s mom, said that because of Garth, Emma is going to be a more confident, stronger woman. Garth actually wrote a book called Napkin Notes and there’s a possibility a movie will be made about his life. Garth said as we grow as human beings, when we get to the end of our lives, it’s the relationships and friendships that matter. He said you should not wait until a doctor gives you a dire diagnosis to write a note to somebody.


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