Think about what makes you the happiest. For 16-year-old Anthony Lyons, its dogs.
The Arizona teen's love of four-legged friends has helped him as he undergoes chemotherapy for leukemia, and he's especially excited when therapy dogs come to meet him during treatments.
Lyon said, "When the dogs come, that's the one thing that makes me smile. The dogs are so happy. They come in and they are already happy. They just want to see you."
But what about the moments when they can't come to visit? Well... pictures are worth a thousand words, and feelings it seems.
A family acquaintance put up a Facebook event page asking for people to help recreate the experience online, titling the request "Photo Doggies for Anthony." The result was inspiring, and helpful in improving Lyons' optimism.
The feedback from the group has been amazing. There are over 900,000 people invited to the Facebook event and over 500,000 pictures of puppies have landed on the page. This isn't just restricted to the United States either. There are pictures of dogs from Australia, Dubai, and everywhere in-between.
Photo Credit: Facebook
Some people just post pictures of man's best friend, others write their thoughts and prayers, and some do both.
"No one is benefiting other than just their own happiness. And that makes me happy right now," his mother Kristen Lyons said. "This is honestly the best thing that's ever happened to us ever. It's given us something to do besides lay around and wait for the next 'sick' thing to happen."
If you want to help in the furry cause, post a picture of your dog here!
Garth Callaghan has a daughter. He also has two types of cancer with a prognosis that gives him an eight percent chance of living long enough to see her graduate high school. Callaghan also has a mission, a promise really... to write 826 notes on napkins for his daughter. One note for her lunch, everyday, until she graduates high school.
Callaghan’s napkin notes are not a new thing. They’ve made their way into his daughter Emma’s lunchbox ever since she was in kindergarten, 10 years ago.
"The notes were very simple to begin with," said Callaghan. "As she grew, the notes did as well. They became more deep with meaning and I used them as a way to inspire her to become a better student or be a better friend."
However after Callaghan was diagnosed with cancer for the first time he started looking at the notes in a different light.
"I looked at them as possibly leaving a legacy and kind of a tool to help her grow up to be a strong confident women," said Callaghan.
Some of the notes are Callaghan’s own words of wisdom, or lessons he wants to pass down. One of those napkins reads, "Let us be thankful for the problems we don't have."
Other napkins have quotes written on them from famous leaders and other notable historical figures.
"We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone. - Ronald Reagan"
Callaghan noticed that after his first diagnosis, his daughter Emma started saving his notes in a composition notebook.
"I thought to myself this is a way to share these notes and maybe inspire other parents other dads to help them connect with other kids," said Callaghan.
From there, Callaghan got permission from Emma to share the napkins on social media sites, where they quickly gained the attention of the Internet community and media. Soon, Callaghan was asked to write a book sharing his journey as a cancer patient and a parent. You can read his reflections and wisdom in Napkin Notes: Make Lunch Meaningful, Life Will Follow.
The newfound fame has given Callaghan a new outlet, and larger audience to continue to spread his message of the importance of connecting with your loved ones while you have the chance.
"Ultimately I want parents to realize and frankly anyone to realize that it’s not too late to connect with a loved one and build a strong relationship. The time to do it is now and you don’t really want to wait to do it when your doctor looks you in the eye and gives you a strong diagnosis. So do it now. Do it today."
Although Callaghan’s future may be uncertain, as he’s currently fighting both kidney and prostate cancer, he’s making the most of his present.
Callaghan has recently partnered up with Patients Like Me to bring awareness to and encourage others to share their medical data.
"A couple years ago I started to really research my illnesses" said Callaghan."I had been diagnosed twice at that point and I was struggling with making good medical decisions. I learned about Patients Like Me and… became a member. [I] started typing in my medical information and I was doing that really to connect with other patients to learn how they alieved some of their side effects the symptoms… and how to better speak with my doctors."
Callaghan notes that sharing medical data helps create a database that serves as a resource for both patients and doctors, to help everyone find new treatment options and ideas.
Besides his work with Patients Like Me, Callaghan is also slated to start work on a new book in the new year, about fellow cancer patients that he describes as being "more inspirational" than he is.
To learn more about Callaghan and check out some of his napkins, check out his website here. We wish him all the best with his life, love and inspirations.
Photo Credit: Napkin Notes Dad
This Sunday was bittersweet for Lauren Hill, a freshman at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, who played her first and final college basketball game. Hill has a rare form of brain cancer called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), which is currently incurable.
In an effort between her coach, the opposing team’s coach and the NCAA, St, Joseph’s first game of the season was moved up two weeks... all so Hill was able to play, and score the first official basket of the NCAA season.
Hill was diagnosed with DIPG in November of 2013, shortly after she had signed with Mount St. Joseph’s. The cancer is typically only seen in children aged between 5 and 7 and has a 0 percent survival rate. Since sharing her story, Hill has a received an outpouring of support from the basketball community.
Mount St. Joseph’s game against Hiram College had to be moved to Xavier University’s basketball arena in order to accommodate the estimated 10,000 people that came to see Hill play. Live streaming video of the game on local websites crashed from the amount of views. On social media, the hashtag #1More4Lauren accompanied well wishes for Hill from around the world.
During halftime, Hill was recognized for her bravery during her cancel battle and was awarded the Pat Summit Most Courageous Award, The awards are ordinarily given at the end of the season, but the USBWA board of directors voted unanimously to honor Hill now.
Hill told ESPNW that she hopes the attention she’s bringing to DIPG will help make progress in the research and treatment of it. Saying that she plans to grant interview and photo shoots until she is too weak to speak. Hill has also started the organization Layup 4 Lauren to raise money for the cure starts now foundation.
Hill’s only college game ended the same way it started, with Hill making the final basket. Mount St. Joseph’s won the game 66-55.
Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old who recently became the face of the death-with-dignity movement, chose to end her life this past Saturday. Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer last spring and given six months to live.
In October, she launched an online video campaign with Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life choice advocacy organization, explaining why she’s choosing to end her own life.
In October, she told People that, "My glioblastoma is going to kill me and that's out of my control. I've discussed with many experts how I would die from it and it's a terrible, terrible way to die. So being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying."
Maynard moved to Oregon in order to be able to die under the Death with Dignity act, where a doctor would be able to prescribe her a fatal dose of barbiturates. On Nov. 1, Maynard chose to die in her home in Portland, surrounded by family.
Before passing, People reports that Maynard posted a farewell message to her family and friends on Facebook.
"Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more," she wrote.
"The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!"
Photo Credit: The Brittany Maynard Fund
29-year-old brain cancer patient Brittany Maynard re-ignited the debate around euthanasia earlier this month after posting a video saying that she wished to end her own life, before cancer did. However, she's saying it isn't time... just yet.
The young woman, who was told she only had six months left to live after being diagnosed with an aggressive stage 4 malignant tumor in April this year, announced her plans to end her life and set a date of November 1st.
However, in a recently shared YouTube video called "A New Video To My Friends" Maynard explained that she has still has too much joy left.
In a previous interview with Refinery 29, Brittany Maynard, spoke out about the date she wished to end her life saying: "I can decide to push it back. Or, if something happens and my symptoms become much worse, I can push it forward... It’s flexible, and the whole idea of the program is to embrace that."
In video posted to her website, Maynard explains her reasons for waiting beyond today, stating: "I still feel good enough, and I still have enough joy, and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn't seem like the right time right now."
While she still stands by her plan of ending her own life with lethal medication Maynard, explained her health is rapidly deteriorating saying: "But, it will come, because I feel myself getting sicker. It's happening each week."
Brittany Maynard, who has faced both strong criticism and an outpouring of support over her decision, recently moved from California to to Oregon with her husband and her family, which is one of only five U.S. States with a right-to-die law.
During the past few weeks Brittany has been busy living life to the fullest by fulfilling items on her bucket list. She visited the Grand Canyon, most recently sharing an image online at the famous landmark with her husband Dan.
Photo Credit: YouTube