‘They Can Stare at Both of Us:’ Dad Gets Tattoo to Match His Son’s Post-brain Surgery Scar

In 2015 a father stood by his young son after he underwent grueling brain surgery. The procedure left him with a scar, so his dad got a tattoo to match the mark, and it went viral online. 

By the age of only eight, Gabriel Marshall had undergone several surgeries to treat his rare brain cancer, called anaplastic astrocytoma. The procedures left him a scar, and the youngster became extremely insecure.

His family revealed that Gabriel felt like a monster and noticed that people would stare at him and his head. His dad, Josh Marshall, did something incredible to support his son through the tough time.  

A father kisses his son who is battling cancer | Photo: Facebook/josh.j.marshall

Josh got a permanent marking to ensure his child knew he didn’t have to face things alone. He shared

“I said, ‘You know what, I’ll get your scar tattooed. That way, if people want to stare at you, then they can stare at both of us.'”

The young boy was overjoyed at the gesture and expressed that his dad was now his twin. The father’s tattoo made Gabriel feel more confident about himself. It also gained both of them a lot of attention online because the gesture touched netizens.


Josh shared the image with the St. Baldrick Foundation for their #BestBaldDad competition. The photo garnered thousands of likes, and it won first place. The proud father never expected the massive public reaction, but he was thankful for it.  Josh said

“I never intended for it to be this big. It was just a friendly competition between fellow cancer dads and people showing support for their loved ones who have fought cancer.”

The father is happy that his post spread awareness about childhood cancer, and he was encouraged by the kindness of strangers. One user wrote: “DAD OF THE YEAR. That’s such a good way to make his son feel like he’s not alone.”

Another commenter added: “Wow. He’s very brave to get a tattoo on his head. Very painful … but the pain for his son, being stared at, that hurts more than getting a tattoo.” People applauded the dad and thanked him for spreading kindness and love.


Users also said the gesture made them cry. For Gabriel, his father’s actions meant the world, and this dad deserved all of the respect and praise that came his way. Sadly the young boy lost his battle with cancer in 2018.

Josh shared that he was heartbroken but felt fortunate for the memories they had together. He continues to spread awareness about childhood cancer. Josh will also always have a piece of his son close to him—the scar tattoo on his head.  

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