With Father’s Day just having taken place this past Sunday, the internet was filled with pictures of fathers and sons, fathers and daughters and just fathers doing anything and everything. However, it has been one picture of a father and son that has taken the world by storm over the past few days. And it has an amazing story to go with it.
In March of 2015, Josh Marshall received some news that no parent ever wants to hear. His 6-year-old son, Gabriel, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer known as anaplastic astrocytoma. Astrocytomas are tumors that develop from astrocytes, which are star-shaped brain cells that combine with other cells to form tissue to protect other nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. The tissue that forms from these collective cells is known as glial tissue. The tumors that arise from this tissue are referred to as gliomas. In layman’s terms, Gabriel was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
“My son was very self-conscious after he got his surgery. He felt like a monster.”
Heartbroken at the thought of his son feeling uncomfortable, Josh came up with a brilliant plan to cheer him up. In August of last year, Josh got a tattoo identical to the scar on Gabriel’s head with the thought that if people wanted to stare at his young son, they could stare at him as well.
“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.'”
Gabriel absolutely loved the tattoo that his father had gotten and tells anyone who will listen that he and his dad are like twins. Not only did Marshall’s tattoo help to boost his son’s confidence and morale, but it has taken over the internet after a picture of the two went viral this week when Josh entered it into a Father’s Day picture contest for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a not-for-profit organization whose goal is to raise money to find cures for children with cancer. The foundation holds events across the country in which sponsored volunteers shave their heads to show their support for children fighting cancer to raise funds.
“Me and my son at this year’s St. Baldrick’s event in Wichita, Kansas. Got my son’s scar tattooed to help his self-confidence.”
Josh has been surprised at the reaction to the photo.
“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.”
Now 8-years-old, Gabriel Marshall is doing well. A portion of the tumor is still there, but it has not grown in size. A scan is done every few months and he’s scheduled to have an MRI next week. As far as Josh Marshall goes, he’s just happy that his son is doing well and that his photo might be able to help in some way.
“It’s amazing. I’m glad that I can kind of spread awareness for the childhood cancer community.”
It is amazing, Josh. And so are you and Gabriel.
[Image via Facebook/Josh J-Mash Marshall]