Dad Diagnosed With Cancer 3 Times Writes 826 Lunch Notes For 14-Year-Old Daughter To Open Throughout High School

by Rachael Ray Show Staff 9:00 AM, July 24, 2014

Aired July 24, 2014

When a viewer and dad from Virginia named Garth was first diagnosed with cancer, he was understandably terrified.

"It was the scariest time of my life," Garth tells us.

And sadly, he didn't only receive one diagnosis.

After initially being diagnosed with kidney cancer, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and kidney cancer for a second time.

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"When kidney cancer comes back, that is a very high concern," Garth says. "My oncologist looked me in the eye and he said, 'Mr. Callaghan, you are going to die from this.'"

At the time, Garth couldn't fathom sitting his 14-year-old daughter Emma down and telling her the news.

"You don't want to ever sit down with your child and say, 'Things may not work out,'" he says. "No 14-year-old should have that burden. No 44-year-old should have that burden."

So instead of focusing on the gravity of the situation, he tried to turn it into something positive for his little girl.

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Garth had started writing Emma lunchbox notes while she was in early grade school.

"They can be quotes, personal letters from me or little tidbits on how to improve your life," he explains.

"When I open my lunchbox and see a note from my dad," Emma says, "it makes me feel all warm inside."

(How sweet!)

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But it wasn't until Emma began keeping her dad's notes in a composition notebook after his first surgery that Garth came up with a bittersweet idea.

"I counted up the days until she graduated high school," he explains, "and that's when I set out to write a note for every day so that she would have it whether I was here or not."

"I had hoped that at some point in time, Emma would be able to look at this collection of notes and get a better understanding of who I am," Garth goes on, "as well as what I wanted her to become."

What an absolute inspiration. ❤️

Watch the video to hear Emma read her favorite lunchbox note out loud to Rach.