Radiation therapy may not be where many go for artistic inspiration, but when the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists put out the call for cover art for a special issue of the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences (JMIRS), Eugene Leung had to look no further than the treatment planning suite. A third-year Radiation Therapy student at The Michener Institute of Education at UHN, Eugene was inspired by both the images produced during treatment planning, and also the human and science interaction of the radiation therapy profession. We asked Eugenewhat inspired him to create the winning JMIRS cover, and what motivated him to go into radiation therapy.
What is the story behind this piece?
Once a year, JMIRS has a call for covers, and this year the topic was image-guided radiation therapy. When I thought about this, the first thing that came to mind was an eye. It’s what we use to assess the world and see everything around us. It’s our portal to how reality works and how we perceive everything. So on the one side, I tried to draw the eye as accurately as possible.
The other side is an abstract radiation dose distribution that we would use to treat, for example, a prostate cancer patient. The piece is very double-sided. One side is very black and white, which represents the science side of radiation therapy, and the other side is very colourful and abstract. That’s the patient side. We do a lot of work on the science and technical side, but there’s also the human side. It’s more artistic and abstract in a way that represents patient care. This piece is really about the connection between technology and patient care.
Do you get the chance to create a lot of art?
I try to whenever I get the chance. It surprises some people when they meet me, but I have a very extensive art background. I went to an art school when I was a kid and I’ve done a lot of music, dancing, visual arts and drama. I try to incorporate as much of it into my day-to-day as I can. When I get the chance I play piano and I draw. I try to write monologues and poems in my spare time.
Do you have any artistic influences?
Not specifically. A lot of what I do is very spur of the moment and intuitive. For example, in this piece, the abstract side wasn’t planned and just kind of happened. For me, art is about things that work in the moment.
What connection does art have with radiation therapy and medical radiation sciences?
Whenever we’re doing radiation therapy treatment planning, a lot of the radiation distribution looks like the one I’ve drawn. It’s a blend and gradient of colours that looks artistic and abstract. When we contour critical organs, a lot of it is looking at CT scans and figure out the delineation between one organ and another, we get these images that look very abstract.
What made you decide to go into radiation therapy?
When I was taking a look at what I wanted to go into as a profession, I was looking at something where I could be in the sciences. I have a background in immunology, and I wanted to continue on the science side. I’ve always been interested in anatomy, science and physiology. But what I’m also interested in is the human side of science and health care; the side of patient care that isn’t black and white. No two patients are the same, so there’s this grey area in health care that you have to work with. Every patient is unique and every day, even when you’re working with the same patient, is unique.