Many people who have chronic conditions get tattoos to remind themselves and those around them that they are stronger than their disease. Others get inked to raise awareness about their condition and to be heard.
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease, affect about 1.6 million people in the United States alone. Here are some of their beautiful tattoos that give a nod to their condition.
If you’d like to share the story behind your own Crohn’s tattoo, email us with the subject line “My Crohn’s Tattoo.” Be sure to include a photo of your tattoo, a short description of why you got it or why you love it, and your name, if you wish to be identified.
“This tattoo means so much to me. I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in September 2007, soon after having my second child at the age of 25. I was a walking skeleton, dehydrated, malnourished, and almost unable to stand. My mom scooped me up and made my doctor admit me to the hospital to see what was wrong. I had been misdiagnosed and almost looked over, until my mom's friend, a general surgeon, finally helped diagnose me with inflammatory bowel disease and referred me to a gastrointestinal doctor. Long story short, I'm now 34 years old. I still battle Crohn's, but it's more controlled. I'm on Humira every other week and staying stable.
“This tattoo is an anchor with my two girls’ birth months’ flowers attached, because they are my anchor in life. Also, a big purple ribbon to support Crohn's disease. I got this to help heal and show myself how strong I really am. I look at this every day and remind myself, I CAN beat this!” — Jillian Lamar
“I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2004 at age 33. I was finally in remission in 2014 and coming out of a five-year struggle with chronic headaches. As I was regaining my health, I realized that I had lost my identity to my illness. My tattoo is a reclamation of me — of my spirit, my joy, my gratitude, my zest for life, my fearlessness, and God’s grace. Turtles represent longevity, slow and steady, and my absolute love for the ocean.” — Lisa Middleton
“My name is Jenn Depre, and I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2010 when I was 14 years old… It has been a long battle and difficult to form relationships with people who certainly don't understand the disease. I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for the support from my boyfriend and family.” — Jenn Depre
“I was diagnosed 33 years ago with Crohn’s at the age of 19. I got this tattoo four years ago on New Year’s Eve, to start the year off reminding me there is always someone there supporting me through my fight, and it will not own me.” — Jeri Fougere
“My name is Reanne White and I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in July 2014. I suffered for many years, not knowing I had Crohn's disease. After being diagnosed, I decided that I wanted to get a tattoo. I chose to go with the Crohn's awareness ribbon (heart shape) and a butterfly.
“Butterflies are a big part of my family, and when I looked up different things to do with Crohn's awareness I saw a lot of butterflies. I just knew that this was the tattoo for me. I drew the heart ribbon myself. Every time I look at my tattoo, I know that I am not alone in this battle.” — Reanne White
“The purple ribbon is obvious. I'm a Crohnie. The song lyrics remind me to not be ashamed of this disease and to use my voice to speak up. Whether it is standing up for myself or to bring awareness, my voice needs to used and heard.” — Sarah Dahlstrom
“I got diagnosed with Crohn's when I was 21. I had no idea what it was until the doctor explained it to me! I have had two surgeries resulting in a very large scar all the way down my stomach. There are too many people in this world that have no idea [about Crohn’s] and should be aware of this terrible disease! I have gained strength in life through the pain I endure!” — Mistie
“I got my colon (:) tattoo shortly after I had a total colectomy in December 2015. It’s a reminder of what
I’ve lost but also how far I've come.” — Lauren Stafford
“The tattoo is on my left wrist, and it’s tattered because it's such a hard road to live with IBD.” — Jenni Schaeffer
“My Crohn's tattoo came after a very rough year with Crohn's. I had been through a lot in such a short period of time that the tattered ribbon made the most sense. It's on my chest so I can see it and others can see it. The words ‘I'm the hero in this story’ came later and just made sense to me.” — Lexi
“I really wanted to get a tattoo symbolizing my fight with Crohn’s disease. I did lots of research and Google searching for Crohn’s tats and didn't find any I loved so decided to come up with something on my own — I absolutely love it! I had seen the purple ribbon and loved it so I decided to incorporate the ‘I will fight’ and the dandelion flying off. I will fight forever and pray there will be a cure one day!” — Stephanie
“My tattoos represent love, family, strength, and courage, with the Crohn's awareness ribbon. These four things symbolize my journey. My brother, sister, and father have matching love, family, strength, and Crohn's awareness ribbon tattoos. I added the courage symbol and ribbon after the first part of my colectomy surgery.
“I am 21 years old and have been battling this disease since I was 16. This tattoo helps me appreciate the struggles in life that make me better and those that help me fight through it.” — Deanna Fierro
“I'm 25 years old and I've been battling Crohn’s since I was 11. In 2011, I had surgery and now have an ileostomy. I really wanted a tattoo of a purple ribbon with the word "survivor" to represent my fight with Crohn’s, but that wasn't enough for me. I've always been known as a joker, so the black outline behind the ribbon is my ostomy bag. My tattoo suits me perfectly!” — Arika Dvorak
“I’ve suffered from IBDs for nine years — first severe ulcerative colitis and now Crohn’s — even after having a total colectomy. It was very hard to come to terms with my chronic illness at such a young age, and music has helped me through the hard times.
“I chose to pair the Crohn’s awareness ribbon with lyrics by my favorite band, My Chemical Romance. It symbolizes that the worst is over and I know I’m strong enough to overcome anything life throws at me.” — Grace Heckel
“I was diagnosed with Crohn’s in August of 2001. I got my tattoo on my left outer thigh in October of 2012 at Electric City Tattoo in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The heart within the Crohn’s awareness ribbon is my Humira shot target, and I designed it myself.” — Anonymous
“My tattoo is inspired by my battle with Crohn's over the last three and a half years, and also my dad's battles with ulcerative colitis and prostate cancer. The words ‘Imagine Better Things’ are in my dad’s handwriting and remind me that there is more to life than Crohn's and that I will overcome.” — Jamie