Heads or Tails


If I were to flip a coin in the air I would have the same chance of getting a heads or tails as I did in inheriting PKD. When dealing with health hardships I have the choice to be bitter or get better. No matter what each new day brings, I can focus on the challenges in life or strive to find the positive. As a PKD survivor I can be ungrateful or thankful. I choose to get better, to find the positive, and to be thankful.

When being diagnosed with one of the most common life threatening genetic disease at the age of 10, it may seem impossible to be thankful for something of this magnitude. The patient, the parents nor the family are thankful for such news. As a 10 year old, I was too young to digest how PKD would have an everlasting impact on every day for the rest of my life. Throughout all of the years, surgeries and pain, there is still much to be thankful for.

PKD has shown me how our bodies are not only mysterious but also miraculous. Also, that my 5’ 3” body is stronger than I would have ever imagined. PKD led me to sharing my story which enabled me to realize my love of public speaking and writing. I have met amazing people and experienced life-altering moments and events thanks to PKD. After spending nearly a year in the hospital, I was given a whole new appreciation of each healthy day at home. Being part of a miracle–such as receiving the gift of life–is humbling yet invigorating to live every moment as if it were my last.

Through all of my gratefulness, I still find myself letting my imagination run wild. I sometimes play the ‘what-if’ game and imagine what my life would be like minus PKD. What if I did not have PKD? What if I had been a “normal” high school girl and could have played sports? If I had been able to complete college, what would my degree have been? Would my life have painted the “normal” life as a married 30- year-old, with a house, fabulous career, and children? Then I open my eyes, come back to reality and realize this game is not fun. “Normal” was obviously not the intended path for me and I’m thankful for that.

I have always fully accepted and embraced that I have PKD. I try not to compare my life to others, knowing that is wasted time as I have the power to make the best of this life of mine. Not associating a timeline to my PKD– like when I might need another transplant– helps me focus on the present which is the only thing I have control of. PKD has taught me many lessons and afforded me numerous things in which to be thankful. We have the power over some 50/50 odds in our life and I hope you will join me and choose “thankful.”


Although we do not have the capability of altering our genes and removing PKD from our lives, we do have the power to focus our energy on the good in life. In honor of Thanksgiving, please take a moment to reflect on what you are thankful for. Please help encourage others by sharing your grateful thoughts.


  1. mark ahumada

    In honor of Thanksgiving I would like to say thank you to President Obama . We can’t to discriminated against for having a hereditary disease.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Mark,
      I appreciate you sharing what you are thankful for.

  2. Amy Dixon

    Good for you! ‘Way to be an inspiration to a bunch of people.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Amy,
      Thank you! 🙂 I hope you are doing well and enjoyed your Thanksgiving.

  3. Olgerta Mele

    I am grateful to you, for the positivism that you bring to us 🙂

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Olgerta,
      Aww, thank you for this very sweet message. It put a big smile on my face.

  4. Karen deVries

    You are an inspiration to all. Keep up the good work.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Karen,
      I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Your support is greatly appreciated! Thank you!!!


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