Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. Normally, it's been known to develop in people ages 65 and above but there are rare cases when younger people begin to experience the disease. Shaun Slicker was among them. He was only twenty years old when he first showed symptoms of Parkinson's.
‘It started with a tremor in my left foot. I used to play rugby and thought it was a trapped nerve and I was finding it hard to walk,’ Shaun told Manchester Evening News.
It turns out that his family has a history of cases of Parkinson's disease as his sister was diagnosed with it at age 29 in 2011—two years after he was diagnosed. By then, he knew what to expect.
‘At first, it was a relief because it could have been something much worse. It wasn’t a death sentence for me and I knew it was something I could live with,’ he said. But Shaun began questioning himself when he started attending Parkinson's meetings but soon found another outlet that changed him for the better as much as the disease is changing him.
‘Shaun Slicker has used tattoos as a distraction and boost towards fighting the Parkinson’s Disease he has suffered from since his early 20s,’ photographer Jude Gidney wrote in a blog entry.
Jude Gidney took photographs of Shaun in several photo shoots that would soon be featured in tattoo magazines and news stories about Shaun and his affliction. Jude witnessed the change in Shaun through the years he spent working and interacting with him.
‘The first time I met him his mobility was reduced and it was hard to see a gentleman who had obviously been very active, being part of a rugby team and with young children, needing a stick to walk with,’ Jude said.
‘Shaun wanting to come to the studio again, I saw a very different figure,’ the photographer observed. ‘Apparently this is due to a tweaking of his medication and working out in the gym, but I’m sure his positive attitude has played a big part.’
Shaun's body is now 75% covered in tattoos, some of which have something to do with his positive attitude towards Parkinson's. ‘I wasn’t on medication for 18 months and couldn’t walk. The tattoos cheered me up and got me out of that depression. Most of my body is covered now and they gave me peace of mind,’ the 30-year-old said.
The father of three is now continuing to raise awareness of Parkinson's disease through his story and his tattoos.