Man diagnosed with terminal cancer gets more than 600 matching tattoos with strangers

Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 12:18 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Many think of tattoos as a permanent memory and that’s certainly the case for a man fighting terminal cancer.

Three years ago, Don Caskey was diagnosed with stage four terminal kidney cancer.

After the diagnosis, he got his sixth tattoo-- a dying pine tree with his cancer ribbon that read ‘I’m still standing.’ It was with that ink he realized, he can only take his memories with him when he goes.

Well for Caskey, his tattoos are memories and he wants to make as many as possible. With a love for people, Caskey had an idea-- what if he got matching tattoos with strangers.

It took about two months to convince someone to join him, but since then he has gotten 612 matching tattoos. He says each ink has a cool unique story to go with it. He adds that it is indescribable to know that even when he is gone, his memory will live on with these 600+ tattoos.

“I truly believe you’re born once and you die twice,” Caskey said. “You’re born when you come out of your mother’s womb, you die when your soul leaves your body. The second time you die is when the last person speaks your name. [These strangers with matching tattoos] can be talking about me 80 years from now and saying my story to their great-great grandkids. It’s a very surreal feeling.”

Caskey says the most tattoos he’s ever gotten in one day is 20 and there are no favorites as picking a favorite tattoo would be like picking a favorite child.

This Saturday, Caskey will be in the Upstate. All day long at the Legion Tattoo Society in Powdersville, the owner will be doing cancer ribbon tattoos and donating all the proceeds.

The money going towards Caskey’s non-profit, Stranger Ink. Stranger Ink helps raise money for funerals of the terminally ill.

Caskey says he will of course be getting some tattoos with strangers during his visit to South Carolina as well.