In March 2015, John Marshall received the worst possible news. It was something that all parents fear for their children. His young son, Gabriel, was diagnosed with a rare malignant brain tumor called anaplastic astrocytoma. In the months that followed, Gabriel received treatments and invasive surgeries to help free him of the cancer. And in the end, the boy’s doctors had happy news. They gained control of his tumor. Although he still had part of the tumor in his head, Gabriel has remained in stable condition in recent exams, and it’s been nine months since he’s received any treatment. But still, the boy has something on his little head that continuously reminds him of what he’s been through—a large surgical scar. And it disturbs Gabriel so much that he admitted to his dad that it makes him feel like a “monster.” When John heard this, the dad decided to do something so his son wouldn’t feel so alone.
“This broke my heart,” John told BuzzFeed about how he felt when his now 8-year-old son, Gabriel, admitted that the scar on his head made him feel like a monster.
The harsh treatments and invasive operations were over, but Gabriel will carry the scar with him for the rest of his life.
Then, John came up with a brilliant and heartwarming idea: he’d get a tattoo that looked just like his son’s scar.
“I told him if people wanted to stare, they could stare at both of us,” John told BuzzFeed.
The 28-year-old father entered a competition called #Bestbalddad, organized by children’s cancer organization St. Baldrick Foundation. It’s a competition where dads shave their heads in support of their children who have or have had cancer. John sent in a picture that included his tattoo.
“Got my son’s scar tattooed to help his self confidence,” John wrote in his application. And it went straight to the jury’s heart. The picture won and has since been spread widely online.
“It was the first time we’ve seen an entry where a dad went above and beyond shaving his head in solidarity with his child and got a tattoo to build his son’s self-confidence,” Alison Sutton of the St. Baldrick Foundation told BuzzFeed.
Big thumbs up to John for the way he supports his son—and at least as big a thumb up to Gabriel for beating cancer!
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