Combining art, storytelling and something personal: that’s the final product coming from UNM Honors College Professor. 

Amaris Feland Ketcham has just published Unfiltered: A Cancer Year Diary, through Casa Urraca Press. Ketcham wrote and illustrated a moving collection of comic-styled diary entries, regarding her husband’s experience with kidney cancer.

It’s something she’s always created, but something she found she needed during the diagnosis, treatment and remission.

“Diary comics can act as a healing art, fostering healing through creativity and promoting wellness and coping skills,” Ketcham said.

Ketcham with book

Throughout the diary, she shares her feelings, experiences and lets loose the occasional humor, all while generating impressive art. It’s important to see, she shows, how life does not stop completely when a terrible medical diagnosis enters the picture. Things like feeding cats, hikes and eating new things together, continue on.

"Maintaining a diary allows us to transform our hardships into creative expressions and find solace --the diary became a place where I could amuse myself, a place that was a retreat and re-energizing force,” she said. “In my sketchbook, I could be vulnerable, admit my ignorance about the human body, and tell a joke all at the same time."

Historically, Ketcham says, diaries like this have played a role in mindfulness, as well as healing, caregiving, and navigating present thoughts and feelings. 

"Diaries offer an unfiltered glimpse into the human experience as it unfolds, granting us the opportunity to reflect, learn, and grow from daily triumphs and struggles," she said.

Praise is swelling already for the unique publication. Kelcey Ervick, author of The Keeper: Soccer, Me, and the Law that Changed Women’s Lives, describes the book as one that “flips your expectations about what a graphic memoir can be and do.” Teresa Wong, author of Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression, calls it “funny, poetic, and wholly charming.” 

Support from the UNM Community is also coming in.

Unfiltered: A Cancer Year Diary will be given a special place on my bedside table. I shall reach for this book, and with a deep sigh of relief remember the possibility of new life ahead,” UNM Arts-In-Medicine Program Director Patricia Ann Repar said. 

Unfiltered: A Cancer Year Diary is now available for purchase. You can read more about it at Casa Urraca Press, and more about Ketcham at the Honors College.