If you’d like to share the story behind your tattoo, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "My MS 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.
Many people with chronic conditions get tattoos to remind themselves, as well as others, that they’re stronger than their disease. Others get inked to raise awareness and to be heard.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder that affects about 2.5 million people around the world, many of them between the ages of 20 and 40. It’s a chronic condition with no cure, though there are treatments that can slow the disease’s progression.
Here are just a few of the tattoos that people with MS have gotten to boost awareness about the disease, and to give themselves the strength they need to keep fighting.
“I got my tattoo just a couple of months after being [diagnosed]. I was an avid triathlete and had just been picked up to race for a local team when I found out. I needed a reminder that was visible at every starting line that I’ve got this, and that I’m a survivor. [I’m] still fighting after five years and still racing. — Anonymous
“My tattoo literally means ‘hope’ for me. Hope for myself, [for my] family, and hope for the future of MS.” — Krissy
“The tattoo is of a puma, my college mascot. My [original] design was the orange disc, but my [tattoo] artist made it solid, which I like. I like the placement because it is hard to ‘hide,’ so it’s part of me now.” — Jose H. Espinosa
“This tattoo represents my strength in the face of MS.” — Vicky Beattie
“Twelve years ago, I was told about this beast living inside me. One that [would] make everything a little more difficult, cause pain, attack every part of me, and never go away. For a long time I was embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to know about my fear or my anger, but I knew I wasn’t supposed to live the rest my life that way, so I started moving and started being the mom and wife my family deserved. Movement led to reduced pain and mental strength. I am no longer a victim. I am stronger than MS. I hate you MS. — Megan
“My scrolling ribbon tattoo says ‘I refuse to give in.’ This simply means not giving up the battle to fight against the disease.” — Sheila Kline
“I have MS and I think [this tattoo] was my way of embracing it. Like I have MS, it doesn’t have me!” — Anonymous
“My tattoo has lots of meanings. The triangles are alchemy symbols. The top one is the earth/air symbol, which represents stability. The bottom one is the water/fire symbol, which represents change. The lines are numbers and the thicker the line is, the bigger the number. On top is my birth date and on the bottom is the date I was diagnosed with MS. The line around my arm is an infinite loop, [as] I’m always changing. I’m a Libra so I’m always trying to balance those two different sides.” — Lukas
“I got this tattoo about a year ago. The reason for the tattoo is a permanent reminder to keep on living. It’s easy to just surrender to MS, but I choose to fight it. When I am having a relapse or I get depressed, I have the tattoo to remind me to live strong. I don’t mean overdoing it, but also not to just stay home and completely quit living. It just reminds me to be the best me that I can be for that day.” — Trisha Barker
“I got this tattoo a few months after being diagnosed because I was going through some tough stages in the beginning. I was battling with depression, along with crying and overanalyzing everything before taking the dreaded daily shot of meds. I eventually had a ‘talk’ with myself and came to the realization that it could be worse and I can overcome this. I got ‘Mind over Matter’ tattooed on my right forearm so it was always there to remind me when I was having a hard time sticking myself or just wanted to give up.” — Mandee