Since childhood, Carrie Field has possessed a love for art and helping others —two passions that have ultimately shaped the person she is today.

In high school, Field was introduced to art therapy and ultimately earned a Master of Science in art therapy and counseling psychology in 2011. She has always enjoyed using art to help people work through challenges such as an illness or loss of a loved one.

In August 2014, Field quickly realized the important role that art would play in her own healing journey after being diagnosed with metastatic Her-2 positive breast cancer. Committed to staying lighthearted during a difficult time, Field began creating her own artwork.

“Art helped me heal day after day, week after week,” said Field. “I used it as my own tool for personal battle.”

While undergoing treatment at the Shawnee Mission Cancer Center, Field met financial advisor Jaime Orlich, who helped her to secure new art supplies through a non-profit organization called Sy’s Fund. To show her gratitude, Field used the supplies to create a beautiful painting that is now permanently displayed in the infusion room at SMCC.

“Carrie has had an excellent response to systemic therapy that has allowed her to stay very active and participate in some of her favorite activities including biking and painting,” said Prasanth Reddy, MD, who serves as Field’s oncologist. “Her positive spirit and outlook on life have been infectious—she has served as an inspiration to myself, our staff and a number of our patients.”

Knowing firsthand the benefits that art therapy provides to cancer patients, Field began thinking about how she could be instrumental in getting others involved and decided to approach SMCC about the creation of a formal art therapy program for patients.

“Throughout my cancer experience, I have learned the importance of relying on faith, trusting in God and giving back to those who helped me,” said Field. “My long-term goal is to be on the other side of the chair and guide people through their treatment using the healing power of art.”

SMCC associates have been very supportive of Field and the mental and spiritual benefits her program can offer to patients. According to Reddy, part of SMCC’s mission is to improve physical, emotional and spiritual health.

“We have a number of avenues that incorporate spirituality into patient care,” said Reddy. “We believe that art enhances the healing environment and are very supportive of Carrie’s efforts to start an art therapy program at the Center.”

Reddy is not the only one offering support to Field. Orlich worked with her to develop budget requirements for the program and The Foundation for Shawnee Mission Medical Center is now collaborating with Field to formulate a plan as well as funding and a start date, which is tentatively scheduled for late summer or early fall.

Like the recent addition of gynecologic oncologists Lowell Byers, MD; Michelle Dudzinski, MD; and Brenda Shoup, MD, the art therapy program represents another way that Shawnee Mission Health focuses on serving the whole patient—a practice that has long differentiated SMH from other healthcare providers.

“The atmosphere at the Shawnee Mission Cancer Center is positive and driven to provide not only the best and most advanced cancer care but in a very comfortable, caring and personal environment,” said Shoup.

Learn more about the Shawnee Mission Cancer Center and view patient videos

This article was also published in the July/August 2015 print edition of OUTLOOK. It was written by Jackie Woods for Shawnee Mission Health.