Adapting to Change

BadlandsLife has taught me how adaptable we are to change and how fun change can be. Today marks six years since Noah and I arrived in Auburn, Calif. following our month-long cross-country move from Pennsylvania to California. I couldn’t be happier or prouder of our decision to spread our wings and venture west.

A big move like this may be easy for some, but for a person with multiple health issues, it can be scary and complicated. When Noah and I discussed moving to California, I immediately reached out to my nephrologist. I was seven years post-transplant at the time, and I wanted to make sure I was not making a foolish decision to move far away from my transplant center and incredible team of doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. My nephrologist assured me that my health was stable and it was safe for me to move.

Grand Tetons

Once I got the green light from my care team, my next step was to find a new doctor in California. I was fortunate to receive a recommendation to an incredible nephrologist, who has taken extraordinary care of me and helped me build my new team of doctors on the west coast.

Another important aspect was health insurance. This was stressful, as I had to make sure that there would be no gap in my health insurance coverage while moving across the U.S. At times while researching and planning all of this prior to our departure, I questioned if I was making the right decision. I did not want to do anything to jeopardize my health. Also, we were leaving behind our entire families and everything we had ever known.

Mt. Rushmore

Little did I know our adventure west would be worth the risk and that it would teach me so much about life and myself. I’m very thankful I prepared ahead of time and took the leap.

On our journey, I gained insight into how big the U.S. really is. I saw the vast beauty of the plains in Kansas. I explored the magnificent Grand Teton National Park, saw my first bison in Yosemite National Park, admired Mt. Rushmore, and soaked in the darkest sky and brightest stars in South Dakota. It was a month of discovery, leading to our new home and future together.


In life and with our health, we so often have to react to what happens to us, versus being the proactive one in control. Noah and I were in the driver’s seat of our destiny. We made the change we wanted to see in the world and put it into motion. This voyage was freeing and empowering. We matured and grew individually and as a couple. It is fun to reflect back on this time in our lives because instead of simply thinking it is possible, we now know it is possible. This move was one of the biggest and best decisions we’ve made in our lives. It taught us that we are more capable than we give ourselves credit for.

A doctor once told me, “You were not given this gift of life to live in a bubble.” Rather than having my health issues limit us, Noah and I ventured out of our bubble in Pennsylvania and created a beautiful life together in California.

When we arrived in Auburn

What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?


  1. Ginny Wood

    Love reading your work….So inspiring to me:) You are a great couple!!! Much happiness to both of you.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Ginny,
      Thank you for your sweet sentiments! So grateful for Noah! Thanks for reading my blog. I appreciate your support. 🙂

  2. Eugenia

    Could you estimate your approximate out of pocket expenses for your transplant. This is never discussed and I recently read it’s not unusual to spend $75,000, mortgage your house and so on?

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Eugenia,
      I had my transplant about 14 years ago when I was 19. I was very ill and not involved in the insurance paperwork, I was fortunate to have my parents take care of that. I asked my mom and she does not recall how much they spent out of pocket. I was under my dad’s health insurance at the time. I’ve never heard of anyone having to pay that much money, “$75,000,” I’m thinking they might not have had health insurance?
      I’m hoping others see your comment and can share their experience.

  3. Carla Markley

    You are a testimony to Strength, courage and a love for life while living with the challenges you face. You are amazing and enjoy you blog so very much. Wishing you many happy memories together in California, even if we do miss you~Love, Carla

    • Valen Keefer

      Thank you so much sweet Carla! I very much appreciate your friendship and support. Thanks for reading my blog, makes me happy to know you enjoy my posts. We love it here, but definitely miss family and friends like you! I will never forget and always treasure the book club you hosted for my bio before we headed west. 🙂 xoxo

  4. dominique

    so glad your happy with your decision to move and that it has all worked out for you for your marriage your health team etc. not to mention all the wonderful pkd rallys , speeches etc . I am so proud of all you have done for our PKd community . Your a godsend. much thankfulness to all you are doing weather it be on the west coast east coast or no coast haha. I am proud of the fact i have been able to reverse the size of my right kidney via ultra sounds . It wasnt easy as i had to hire a trainer and crack down on diet. it was a move i didnt expect to accomplish being i am on dialysis as well and had to go work out on those days but i did it anyways being i wasnt liking my self image. thanks again for sharing all your blogs it makes for very interesting readings and education learning is the best way to conquer one’s fears on the unknown . Dominique

    • Valen Keefer

      Haha. You’re so sweet Dominique! Love the comment of the coasts…moving to the west coast opened up a whole new world of connections and opportunities to share my journey. I’m so grateful! Your kindness and support means a whole bunch to me! 🙂
      You should be proud of yourself. I’m proud of your dedication, determination and commitment to great health and positive self image. Keep up the great work my friend, I know it’s not easy. Hugs!


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