This Kind of Ink Gets you Noticed

“For years I tried to get people interested in Huntington’s Disease,” said Kelly Croall Spisak of Louisiana.  A rare genetic disease that affects the neurological system, Spisak handed out thousands of brochures and  pamphlets about HD, but never really felt like she was connecting with people.

That changed once she got a tattoo.   Located on the underside of each wrist, one shows the Huntington’s Disease Society of America logo while the other states “Care to Cure HD.”

The impact was immediate.  “Once people see the tattoos, they start asking me all about HD, what it is and why I got the tattoos,” Spisak said.

Spisak is not alone.  She is one of a growing number of Huntington’s Disease patient advocates that are using body art as a way to help raise awareness about the disease.

Alicia Hogue was inspired after learning about Pat Wolf’s HD tattoo.  “She had a little ‘Cure HD’ tat,” Hogue said.  “Once the cure had been found, she was going to add a ‘D’ to it.  I came up with my own version and my husband, who’s a tattoo artist, did it for me. I’ll add a D and color in the remaining puzzle pieces [once there is a cure].”

Tattoos typically have decorative and spiritual uses, including the memorialization of deceased loved ones.  Many HD tattoos fall into this category.  At the same time, the tattoos have generated many conversations about the disease unlike any pamphlet or brochure.

“Doing something different and interesting is a great way to generate word-of-mouth conversations about your cause, company or candidate,” said Joseph LaMountain, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and President of SparkLight Communications.  “A tattoo about a rare medical disorder definitely gets your attention and is a great way to get the conversation started.”

Of course, not everyone affected by HD will want to get a tattoo.  But as word-of-mouth spreads, it seems likely that the number of people with an HD tattoo will grow.

“I’m not sure if the tattoo thing is something that a LOT of people do,” Hogue said, “but I think it’s just because they don’t think about it. I know that once my sister saw and heard about mine she vowed to get one too.  I definitely think it’s something that is catching on though, for sure.”


5 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joseph LaMountain, Joseph LaMountain. Joseph LaMountain said: Are tattoos the newest way to raise awareness about disease? – […]

  2. Yay!!! I am in this club!!

    There is also a “Community” on…although not very active now, who knows?

    HD stinks. So I got inked.
    Ok, not the best rhyme…
    Laura Q.

  3. […] carterlamountain A few weeks ago, I wrote about how people with Huntington’s Disease were getting tattoos, partly to help raise awareness about the […]

  4. I’m getting this tattoo!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: