Sonder
Illuminating cancer stories

Many of the outlets that exist for cancer stories depict one-dimensional recounts of a person’s cancer journey. When diving deeper into cancer stories, people’s experiences are not all as they seem. Heartfelt moments get lost in the clutter, positivity gets masked by pain, and grief gets discounted. Cancer is a sensitive topic but it's important to destigmatize it by talking about the stories that are often left unsaid in an open and embracive way.

Sonder is a series of books that documents five individuals through their cancer experiences. These books serve to expose deeper vulnerabilities in regards to cancer through visual experimentation and audio to paint out the abundance of nuances and emotions involved.


Project
Book

Role
Book design

Probing Deep

I scripted a sequence of cancer-related questions and interviewed a total of five individuals (two caregivers, three survivors). Questions were unique to a survivor or caregiver and walk through the diagnosis, treatment, and remission. The questions were curated to have difficult and empathetic conversations surrounding each individual's journey. They are the questions that people tend to shy away from asking because of how delicate they can be.

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Round and Round

An accordion book was designed and hand-bound for each survivor and caregiver. It takes the form of a printed book because I wanted these stories to be viewed preciously. The accordion book symbolizes the cyclical nature of the stories. One side of the book focuses on the positive memories of the cancer experience while the other side portrays the tougher aspects.

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Visualizing Sound

Each book has soundwaves embedded in places where it was crucial to hear the survivor or caregiver’s story in their own voices. By incorporating an interactive element to play certain parts, readers can be a lot more engrossed in what is happening. Its emotional functionality is similar to that of music visualizers where following a visual graphic can help people be more immersed in the sounds they’re hearing by listening to cancer stories this way.

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Visual Exploration

All the imagery is a collage of newspaper and magazine clippings that metaphorically translates an instance of a person’s cancer journey. Because newspapers and magazines are culminations of a variety of stories from different people and viewpoints, this was a rich source to pull from. The collaged illustrations were coupled with typographical experimentation that emphasized certain aspects in the stories for readers to dwell on more intently.

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