Cancer Care: Volunteer Provides Healing Through Art

Moscow’s Julene Ewert Offers Free Art Classes to Gritman Patients Going Through Cancer Care Treatment

Painting played a healing role in Julene Ewert’s recovery from Stage 3 breast cancer.

The Moscow woman and longtime artist now wants to ensure others going through their own difficult cancer diagnosis and treatment journeys have that same resource. It’s one of the reasons why she recently created “Art Heals,” a program that provides free art classes to Latah County residents who may be battling their own cancer diagnosis.

Julene ewert

Julene Ewert

Ewert expressed her own anxieties and hopes through painting during a yearlong battle with HER2-positive, an aggressive form of breast cancer, but a strain that responds well to treatment. She’s now been in remission for more than a year following a course of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and 25 rounds of radiation.

Learn more about Julene Ewert’s art and the classes she’s teaching to those battling cancer at juleneewert.com.

Throughout it all, Ewert turned to art—painting on wood or canvas, drawing, electronic art—allowing her to channel the feelings of the cancer care recovery journey she’s gone through over the past several years.

“It is hard to verbalize what you’re going through so art helped me channel that,” she said.

With a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Idaho and a background in graphic design, Ewert has long worked toward creative endeavors. Daily radiation treatments in Lewiston further nurtured Ewert’s lifelong passion for creating artistic things.

“I find that making and sharing art helps make my journey lighter, brighter, and it helps me feel connected,” she said. “It feels good to me knowing that my work might lift you up, brighten your day, and make you feel a little more connected, too.”

In julene ewert’s “unfolding strength,” the love of friends is depicted, along with the community that was a large part of ewert’s healing journey while receiving cancer care treatment.In Julene Ewert’s “Unfolding Strength,” the love of friends is depicted, along with the community that was a large part of Ewert’s healing journey while receiving cancer care treatment.

Doctors encouraged that she keep up with her craft throughout treatment, giving advice to “continue living your life as much as you can.”

The artwork continued, though Ewert said her work took an inward turn. One painting, “The Healing,” (Pictured Above) depicts a woman in bandages holding a hawk in her right hand. It’s an artistic response to Ewert’s double mastectomy and allows the artist to showcase the spirit animal that helped guide her—Ewert crossed paths with a hawk 22 times during her journey from diagnosis to recovery.

Another piece, “Unfolding Strength,” depicts the love of friends, along with the community that was a large part of Ewert’s healing journey while receiving cancer care treatment. It was created with acrylic paint and mixed media on a birch wood cradle panel

Ewert has been in remission since July 2020, but still sees Dr. Srijana Rai at Palouse Oncology and Hematology for follow-up appointments here in Moscow.

She’s also still painting. Ewert recently started donating her expertise to others who may be battling cancer in Latah County in the form of free art classes. Not only are the classes free, Ewert will donate all materials for one-on-one instruction to cancer patients, survivors and caregivers during in-person or virtual art sessions throughout Latah County.

“I find that making and sharing art helps make my journey lighter, brighter, and it helps me feel connected. It feels good to me knowing that my work might lift you up, brighten your day, and make you feel a little more connected, too.” — Julene Ewert

Throughout her treatment, Ewert received support in the form of gas gift cards and massages through the Gritman Foundation’s Light a Candle Program. That support prompted her to partner with Gritman Volunteer Services to promote the “Art Heals” service with patients of Palouse Oncology and Hematology, a partnership with Gritman Medical Center, Pullman Regional Hospital and Whitman Hospital and Medical Center.

The goal is to inspire creativity in the patients she works with and give these patients another outlet for release of the trauma that comes with a cancer diagnosis. The act of artistry isn’t meant to be scary, but to help patients relax and be in the moment—whether through painting on a large canvas or just doodling with markers on a sheet of paper.

She hopes the art therapy creates an outlet for other aspiring artists, and gives her an opportunity to give back after going through her own similar experience.

“Sometimes we all need a hand,” she said, “a reminder that we’re not alone in this big, crazy, beautiful, heartbreaking world.”

Pictured at top: Julene Ewert creates her art to make life’s journey brighter and found it served as a valuable outlet while battling breast cancer. The Moscow-based artist now volunteers as an art teacher to help patients undergoing cancer care treatment get that same benefit.