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Rolanda Engstrom has worked as a fashion designer in the fast paced and high stress environment of the garment industry. Val Engstrom worked as a carpenter building sailboats while living in the boat factory. They hit it off in spite of the fact Engstromthat most women in California would probably not have anything to do with a boat bum who lives in a factory. They were at opposite ends of lifestyle, yet attached at the soul.

Rolanda had an early aptitude for art. A teacher saw the talent and suggested fashion design at L.A. Trade Tech. Others saw potential and soon she was working in the industry even before she had graduated. She worked as a designer for 25 years, including opening her own line of contemporary clothing which was sold at Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor and other high end stores.

Val also showed an early aptitude for art. From the first grade on, he was the one student who was counted on to draw pictures for the class. But Idaho didn’t have art in the curriculum, so art was put on the back burner. With a degree in English, he came to California for the TESOL program at UCLA.  Before he started at UCLA, he took a job as a boat carpenter.  Then fate intervened and he met Rolanda. Since they both had art in common, painting, sketching and pre-Columbian pottery became the focus of their lives.  But fate threw a couple more curves with prostate cancer, then squamous cell cancer of the tonsil, which ended his construction work, but allowed more time for art and volunteer work.

Both Val and Rolanda are struggling artists and Reike practitioners.  Reiki, a Japanese touch therapy and making art helped both of them through the physical and mental challenges that a cancer diagnosis can bring. They both practice Yoga and meditation. Both have experienced their fare share of cancer and all the ramifications that come with it. So please come join us in a group hug where we will use all of our experiences in life to help you through yours.