It was a cold winter day and the rain poured down as I sat in my car, encouraging myself to depart my heated car seat and head in to my doctor’s appointment. Fatigue had become a regular part of life along with achy bones, hair loss and depression, which I convinced myself were a result of blue days and old age. Being the parking lot was nearly full, my intuition told me I best pick up the pace and check-in for my appointment.
The expected routine was followed, the wonderful weigh-in, followed by a blood pressure check and medication verifications. Dr. Ahlers was in his usual good mood spreading his positive bedside manner.
“Going over your blood results, I noticed your pH levels are out of whack.”
Call it naivety, but I sincerely felt there was a minor issue at hand. I continued to think blithe-mannerism but I could not ignore that his lighthearted tone had transformed into the depths of a serious conversation.
“Your pH levels are dangerously off balance and your acidic level is sky high. How have you been feeling?”
I hesitated to respond as my mental health was drastically better after leaving a toxic relationship and a dead-end job, but it seemed my body was a bit slow to catch up with my newfound peace.
“Fatigued and my joints have been hurting lately.”
He smiled and continued to stare at the curiosity that seeped from eyes as I smiled back. At that point his examination began and he commented on the numerous moles I had inherited from my father.
“This one near your naval is concerning. I’d like you to have it checked by a dermatologist. Have you always had this mole?”
I looked down, noticing the dark mole and questioning the possibility that the symmetry had changed.
“I’ve had that mole my entire life, but it is much darker than it used to be.”
He walked to his computer and input a request to the referral department for my future appointment with a dermatologist. As I observed him at work in slow motion, I pondered the years of vanity, laying in the sun for too long, ignoring my mother’s advice to also stay away from the tanning beds.
I didn’t dwell on the possible negative outcome as I could be adding additional stress to my system, which is never good. I did my best to stay busy and focused on the positive.
During the dermatology appointment, several biopsies were taken as my body began to feel like a human pin cushion. Grateful for the opportunity to catch any stage of skin cancer, I believed I could deal with the diagnosis.
The waiting game had begun after my biopsies were transferred to the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center. I was told the results would arrive within three to seven business days. On the fifth day I received the call.
“Ms. Armstrong, we received the results of your biopsies and I am sorry to tell you that one of your biopsies showed you are at the early stages of Melanoma. We need to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Can you come in next week?”
Now was not the time break down. My significant other was away visiting his mother in New Zealand, falling apart would not do any good – only further aggravate the poison living inside my body.
“Next week is fine. Is Melanoma serious?”
I know I probably sounded ignorant but my foolish question was not what troubled me. She tried her best to ease my mind and stress the seriousness of Melanoma at the same time.
“Yes, if not caught early. Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer and without immediate treatment; it can spread faster than most forms of cancers. You are in the early stages and that is a good thing.”
I had escaped the evil monsters from my past and I can surely beat this, too.
I returned to the dermatologist, where a large surgical incision was made beside my naval with wide cut margins in order to ensure the cancer cells had not spread to my healthy tissues. Fifteen stitches later, I was left with a beautiful reminder of “train tracks,” reminding me to be grateful and avoid the sun for prolonged periods of time.
When I returned to the medical doctor for a follow up appointment, we discussed the procedure, the cancer findings and how my abnormal pH balance initially triggered his concerns.
He explained it to me like this – Your body’s pH balance is the levels of acids and bases in your blood at which your body functions best. Our human bodies are designed to naturally maintain a healthy balance of acidity and alkalinity and our kidneys and lungs play a key role in this process.
If your key organs are malfunctioning, your blood’s pH level can become imbalanced. Any long-term disruption of your acid-base balance can lead to medical conditions.
I continued to listen intently when he shared with me that cancer thrives in an acidic body. While it is difficult to change the pH levels in your blood, there are remedies to boost your alkaline levels through diet.
I changed my diet by eating more fruits and vegetables, avoiding processed foods as much as possible. We can all make minor changes along the way. We can all find ways to live a better life.
But the big take away for me is not only the importance of knowing my pH levels, but discovering through my pH levels there was an underlying medical diagnosis. I not only discovered I had Melanoma, I later learned I suffered from an auto-immune disease, Hashimoto’s Disease.
Every six months I return to the dermatologist as she usually takes more biopsies, leaving this human pin cushion grateful to have a second chance.
And every six months I pay a visit to my endocrinologist, treating my immune system that is gravely confused and attacks my thyroid. Through prescribed medications, new diet and understanding the importance of pH we can all be one step ahead of unfortunate health issues.
Life is too short to put your health on the back burner. If you have been putting off your next visit (remote or physical) pick up the phone and gift yourself with a visit to your doctor.
You have one life, treasure it. No one will do it for you.