Stories: Amy


Art therapy program inspires legacy giving

When Amy Helen Johnson learned she had breast cancer, she wasn’t surprised by the diagnosis as both her mother and grandmother had died at young ages from the disease. “I knew I was at risk,” she says, “but I didn’t anticipate how much havoc it would wreak in my life.”

Once diagnosed, Amy did extensive research on where to seek treatment. “I talked to 19 doctors in two weeks, and finally found Saul Rivkin at Swedish. He was the only one who was on board with my desire for an aggressive treatment plan,” she says. Amy underwent two rounds of intense chemotherapy following a double mastectomy. “The cancer was a breeze, but the chemo nearly killed me. It was during those long, miserable months that the art-therapy program became my refuge.”

Amy remembers being overwhelmed by all the information and support options Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) provided to her. But she read it all and was intrigued by the art therapy program. “I’m a creative person, so that caught my eye.” In art therapy, she soon found a meaningful and very personal outlet for the emotion, stress, and anxiety she was experiencing. She also found a comforting presence in art therapist Nicole Stiver, who didn’t try to “fix” anything, but just listened. “Nicole just lets you express anything you need to and helps you direct it into a creative outlet,” Amy says.

In gratitude for Nicole’s help, Amy and her husband, John, began making annual gifts to the art therapy program to help buy supplies, eventually growing their support to increase Nicole’s hours at SCI. “I know our gifts make a direct impact on the program and the patients Nicole helps, so it feels good to give back,” Amy says.

Amy and John also joined Swedish Legacy Partners by making Swedish a beneficiary of their life insurance plan. This year, they added a new component to their estate plans – a charitable remainder trust. Amy and John decided that a young family member with ongoing health issues needed their support. They created a trust that will provide income to him during his lifetime, with the remainder of the trust distributed to their favorite charities, including the art therapy program, when the trust terminates. “We are so pleased that we can support our family member and also make meaningful gifts in the future – it’s the best of both worlds,” says Amy.

To learn more or to join Swedish Legacy Partners, visit or contact Andrea King, director of planned giving, at 206-386-3379 or [email protected]