TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – The story of a Toledo man with terminal cancer has been spread around the world. It all started when he found a unique way to mark his path in life.
Don Caskey In December 2019, he first learned that he had stage four kidney cancer. While this diagnosis was difficult, Don said it opened up a whole new world for him.
“I believe that something good always comes out of a bad thing,” he says. “Cancer has been a blessing in a strange way. I can do things that I could never do. “
The evidence of this is easy to see. Don had five tattoos before finding out he had cancer. After his diagnosis, he decided to ask people to have him tattooed. Most of them were complete strangers.
“In the last 10 months, 419 people in six countries on three continents have had me tattooed,” he explains. “People I had never met before that day.”
The handful of tattoos with people abroad were done virtually, but the rest were done in person. In the last month alone, Don has traveled 11 states and put 4,000 miles on his car.
“It’s amazing how much I used to stress out about the little things,” he says. “Now I am stress-free. Wherever the wind takes me, that’s where I go. I enjoy every minute that I have. “
Many of the people he is now linked with by the Ink face their own struggles.
“I got one with 2 sisters and one of them has breast cancer,” explains Don. “I also got one with an old friend I hadn’t seen in years. He lost two sons to exaggeration. “
After getting tattooed with country musician Jay Allen earlier this year, Don’s story even landed in People Magazine.
“I never would have imagined in a million years that little old Don from Toledo, Ohio would have a small but global voice, never,” he says. “But that’s exactly what happened.”
And he doesn’t want to stop at 419. He’s giving him the chance to get the next tattoo. The money raised will go to a nonprofit called Stranger Ink, which he started.
“I will help pay for the funeral of terminally ill people,” he says. “You often have to spend so much money to stay alive that not much is left. “
Don says he has no plans to slow down anytime soon, and he looks forward to a few more chapters in his colorful life story.
“I’m not ready to die, but I’m not afraid to die,” he says. “I am grateful every day for the worldwide support. It is a motivation to keep going. “
Copyright 2021 WTVG. All rights reserved.