Dad Gets Tattoo to Match His Son’s Cranial Scars

Rachel Grumman Bender
Writer
Jeremy Cortner gets a tattoo to match his son’s surgery scars. (Photo: WQOW/CNN)

A Wisconsin dad got a tattoo to show his support for his 6-year-old son, who has a rare medical condition.

Jeremy Cortner’s son Casey has craniosynostosis, a birth defect in which one or more of the fibrous joints between the bones of a baby’s skull fuse prematurely, before the baby’s brain has had a chance to fully form, according to the Mayo Clinic. Treating the condition requires surgery to correct the shape of the head and allow room for normal brain growth.

After undergoing cranial surgery, Casey was left with zigzagging scars along the top of his head. Cortner got the idea of getting a tattoo that matched his son’s scars from another dad who had done something similar. “I saw another father who did the same thing,” he told WGNO. “His son had a brain tumor, and he did it to boost the confidence of his child, and that’s kind of the same reason I’m doing it.”

Cortner was likely referring to Josh Marshall, who got a tattoo to match his son Gabriel’s scar after Gabriel had surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor. “I told him if people wanted to stare, they could stare at both of us,” Marshall told Buzzfeed. Marshall entered and won the St. Baldrick’s #BestBaldDad competition in 2016 — a contest for dads, as well as grandfathers and uncles, who shaved their heads to honor a child diagnosed with cancer.


British couple Tanya and Adam Phillips also each got a tattoo to match their daughter Honey-Rae’s red birthmark, which starts on her right foot, goes up her leg, and travels to her back. Echoing Marshall’s sentiment, Tanya told the Mirror: “We wanted Honey-Rae to feel special, that her birthmark was something to feel proud of and not embarrassed by. Most people might think it’s very extreme, but to us it was the natural thing to do to ensure our daughter never felt different or alone in the world.”

It’s an empathy that Cortner can obviously relate to. “I want [Casey] to know that he shouldn’t feel isolated or alone with his scar,” he told WGNO. “I get to choose this. He doesn’t get to choose his, you know? When he looks back and thinks about his surgery, maybe some positive memories will come out of something special my dad did for me instead of just the negative parts of it, of how painful it was.”

Cortner got the tattoo at Rezurrection Tattoo in Eau Claire, Wis. Yahoo Beauty wasn’t able to reach Cortner but did speak with Michael Roth, the tattoo artist who had worked on the dad. Roth says that he had never done a tattoo like that before. “I hadn’t done any tattoos of scars on the head,” Roth says, “especially for the reason that he was getting it.”

The tattoo took two hours to complete, but Roth says that Cortner handled any discomfort like a champ. “He actually took it really well,” he says. “We have movies on the wall, so I kicked him back and he watched movies.”

Roth was touched by the dad’s motivation for the tattoo. “I thought it was awesome,” he says. “I love the whole meaning behind it.”

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