— -- A father’s effort to mitigate his son’s insecurity after a cancer surgery left him with a scar on his head is gaining attention across the internet.
Gabriel Marshall, now 8 years old, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer called anaplastic astrocytoma in March 2015. Surgeries to remove his tumor left him bald with a scar on the right side of his head, according to his father, Josh Marshall.
“My son was very self-conscious after he got his surgery. He felt like a monster,” Marshall told ABC News.
In August 2015, Marshall decided to get a tattoo mimicking his son’s scar. “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 loves his dad’s tattoo and tells people he and his father are like twins.
Marshall’s decision has not only boosted his son’s confidence, but also received an outpouring of praise after he entered a picture to the St. Baldrick Foundation’s #BestBaldDad competition, in which 55 dads who shaved their heads in support of their children with cancer submitted photo entries. Marshall’s picture was captioned: “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.”
Marshall and his son received more than 5,000 votes and won first place.
“I never intended for it to be this big,” he said of the attention his photo has received. “It was just a friendly competition between fellow cancer dads and people showing support for their loved ones who have fought cancer.”
Gabriel is doing well, Marshall told ABC News. Though a small portion of the tumor still remains, it hasn’t grown. He receives scans once every three months, with his next MRI scheduled for next week.
Though he could never have anticipated the response, Marshall expressed his gratitude.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “I’m glad that I can kind of spread awareness for the childhood cancer community.”