Dr Yi Yuen (Ian) Wang has helped patients with pituitary conditions for more than 15 years. As a neurosurgeon, he has witnessed the fatigue, illness, pain and stress these conditions can cause and recognises the impact this has on patient’s daily life. He knows these symptoms happen because the pituitary gland does not work properly. After all, the pituitary gland is often referred to as the Master Gland – it makes hormones that control most other systems in the body.
Determined to raise awareness for pituitary patients, Yi Yuen signed up for the Port Macquarie Ironman event. This was in January 2019, leaving 5 months to prepare his mind and body to conquer the massive endurance challenge: a 3.8 km swim, 180 km cycle and a 42.2 km run. An event that takes anywhere from 8½ to 17 hours (!) to complete.
And prepare he did.
By the day of the Ironman Challenge, Yi Yuen had completed over 170 hours of training across nearly 3000 km. And although this wasn’t easy, Yi Yuen knew he could train, recover and then train some more because his pituitary hormones functioned normally. These hormones, among other roles, are important for controlling blood pressure, blood sugar levels, the stress response and helping build bone strength and muscle mass.
“Pituitary patients are the true ironmen and ironwomen who push on through life despite the physical and mental struggles caused by hormonal dysfunction,” says Yi Yuen. “They still achieve every single day”.
Although describing the event as “truly gruelling”, Yi Yuen completed the challenge in an impressive 13 hours and 47 minutes. A truly remarkable achievement!
He described what kept him motivated,
“There were periods of time where the physical and mental challenges seemed insurmountable. Yet, the recurring thought came back to me during the difficult times that our patients and pituitary community push through and succeed every day”.
One of the most difficult moments occurred around 5 hours into the event, when the chain snapped on Yi Yuen’s bike at around the 110 km mark. This left him stranded for 40 minutes awaiting help. Struggling with the possibility of not being able to complete, he recognised it was far less than his patient’s every day “hormonal struggle, that may come through no fault of their own.”
Through the event, Yi Yuen raised close to $13,000 for the Australian Pituitary Foundation. This money will be used to continue the work of raising awareness and providing support to patients and families.
“Pituitary patients need our support to continue the fight towards awareness. It is for them that I have gone down this journey”.
If you would like to add your support for Yi Yuen Wang and the Australian Pituitary Foundation, you can make donations through the everyday hero portal at https://give.everydayhero.com/au/hormones-for-living.
Find more information about the pituitary gland here.
Hormones-Australia has patient information available about common pituitary conditions:
About Dr Yi Yuen Wang
Dr Yi Yuen Wang is a neurosurgeon at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, with specialist training in the surgical treatment of pituitary disorders. He is passionate about achieving optimal outcomes for patients with pituitary conditions. He is actively involved in clinical research and is the Co-Chair of the Australian Pituitary Foundation.