Dad with Cancer Writes Daughter 826 Lunchtime Notes

Father with Cancer Writes Daughter 826 Notes
Courtesy Because I Said I Would
Courtesy Because I Said I Would

updated 01/27/2014 AT 06:30 PM EST

originally published 01/27/2014 AT 04:30 PM EST

Garth Callaghan has been diagnosed with cancer three times in the past two years. While he is currently cancer-free, he has just an 8 percent chance of surviving the next five years. He is planning for the future, though.

Callaghan, 44, wants to make sure that if tragedy strikes, he leaves his daughter, Emma, with as much fatherly advice as possible. His chosen medium? Napkins.

Ever since Emma was a little girl, Callaghan would leave notes in her lunchbox. What started as a sweet memento between father and daughter has become a tradition – one Callaghan hopes to continue, even if he can no longer participate on a daily basis.

Dad with Cancer Writes Daughter 826 Lunchtime Notes| Real People Stories

Emma Callahan and Garth Callahan

Courtesy Because I Said I Would

On a mission to "Pack. Write. Connect," Callaghan is writing more than 800 notes on napkins – enough so that Emma can have one in her lunchbox every day until she graduates from high school.

While the family tradition started when Emma was in second grade, now that she’s older, Callaghan's notes include wisdom from the Bible, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Even quotes from Yoda, Erma Bombeck and George Foreman have been included in the project, in the hope that their words may help guide or comfort Emma, if her father doesn’t win his fight against cancer.

Callaghan doesn't only rely on the words of others, though. Some of the most touching notes come from him. "Dear Emma," he wrote on one, "Sometimes when I need a miracle I look into your eyes and realize I've already created one."

You can see some of Callaghan's notes on the website Because I Said I Would and follow Callaghan's note-writing progress on Facebook, Twitter and his website,

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