My Caregiver of the Year

There is not one word that could adequately describe how wonderful my dear husband Noah is and how much I love and appreciate him. When allowed 300 words by The American Kidney Fund to nominate Noah in my hope that he will receive their annual Caregiver of the Year Award, I found that challenging as well. Each year, the American Kidney Fund presents the Caregiver of the Year award to someone who goes “above and beyond” to provide care and support to a dialysis or kidney transplant patient. The person who is selected as the Caregiver of the Year will be honored at their annual gala, The Hope Affair, on October 29, 2013, at Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. The Hope Affair is the event where they honor the people who inspire us in the fight against kidney disease.

Many of us are fortunate to have caregivers in our lives. I believe Noah is special because he willingly signed up to share his life with me knowing my past and what my future holds for me and now for us. Although I am not at a point in my kidney journey in which Noah has to take me to dialysis treatments, I believed it was important to honor Noah who committed early on that he would willingly do so. I want the world to be inspired by Noah’s dedication and commitment to making sure I enjoy the happiest life possible.

I want to share my 297-word submission, nominating Noah as Caregiver of the Year. I will find out by the end of August if he is selected.

I wonder if my 32-year-old husband, Noah, knew as an adorable young boy that he would grow up into an award-winning caregiver to his wife. I fell in love with sweet Noah six years ago. September will mark two years since we committed on a granite foundation in Yosemite National Park that we would love and care for each other the rest of our lives.

Noah & Valen 2

It takes courage to marry someone with my health history and future. I warned him that with all my body has endured, a year-long stay in the hospital when I was 18 and 19 years old, including: a bilateral nephrectomy, dialysis, more than 70 blood transfusions, and a kidney transplant, that dialysis and transplantation happening again in my future are almost certain. Thankfully Noah accepted the challenge.

My life is a medical roller-coaster ride. This year has been a bumpy ride and I am ready to hop off and enjoy some calmness on even ground. Noah has been extraordinary with his patience and tenacity to see me through and get me back on my feet.

Noah & Valen 3

He gives me something to fight for and hope for the future. I have seen more, lived more and learned more about life and myself by sharing it with Noah. We are an awesome team. My husband’s love gives hope to everyone that there are remarkable partners who will love us for who we are, kidneys or no kidneys.

I never had any fears in all my battles with kidney disease. Now my only fear is to be taken away from Noah. So I will continue to take the best care of myself, never give up and fight to the end to spend as many wonderful healthy days as I can with him on this beautiful journey.

Who is your Caregiver of the Year and how do they go above and beyond to provide care and support to you?


  1. Maureen Gardner

    Hi Valen,
    I am so excited to finally have the opportunity to communicate with you via computer. Finally got a laptop at home-yeah. I have so enjoyed reading your stories in recent months-have used my laptop at work. I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Chicago PKD convention 4 years ago. It was so cool to meet you and your book is one of-actually no it IS my favorite!!!I hope your amazing husband wins the caregiver award. Michele(my daughter with PKD) and I are looking forward to the walk in Syracuse next month. Thank you for sharing all your beautiful thoughts and stories. I am presently working hard making pillow cases. It s a fundraiser we started 2 years ago. They come in all fabrics-seasonal. I buy the fabric and ask for a small donation. I sew a teal ribbon on each that says END PKD. Again so cool to write to you. Hope we can meet again some day.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Maureen,
      You are so sweet! Thank you very much for your beautifully kind words and all of your support. Great to hear from you and so happy you are enjoying my blog and means so much that my bio is your favorite book. If you are on facebook, please friend me – Valen Cover Keefer. That is wonderful what you are doing by making the pillow cases. I hope our paths cross again! 🙂

  2. Debbie Ismer

    Hi Valen! I love your story! Also, I think your name is so beautiful! Valen & Noah…definitely originals & I am betting Noah will win the award! He will be a hard act to follow. You both sound so blessed & it’s inspiring to me to read about your lives. My hope & prayer is that you both will experience good health off the roller coaster, and to be there for each other.
    PKD affects my life & my brothers. I have a kidney transplant that was very graciously given to me by a dear friend & coworker in 2010. We have both been RN’s at Tampa General Hospital for years. I am truly blessed by my donor.
    Our annual PKD walk will be in St. Petersburg, Fl. on Sept, 26, 2013. I love our walk!
    It’s very awesome to read your story & learn of your incredible caregiver! Thank you both for sharing your lives & making our world, especially our PKD world, more inspiring. We need more like you & Noah. May God bless.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Debbie,
      Wow! Thank you SO much for this super sweet and encouraging message. I was due on Valentine’s Day and my mom watched a show and one of the stars was named Falen. My dad put the two together and here I am. 🙂 I came early as my birthday is February 5th. I am so grateful to share my life with my amazingly supportive husband. Would be so fun if he would be selected as ‘Caregiver of the Year.’ I am very happy to hear that you received the beautiful gift of life and that you can share your journey with your friend and she can see how life changing her gift is. I love going to PKD events and it is awesome that you are involved in the FL walk. Wish we lived closer and could walk together. Your support and kind words mean so much! So much good has come into my life by having PKD. I have met incredible people and had amazing experiences. I try to focus on what I can control rather than what I can’t and to focus on the positives…makes life a lot more fun. Please stay in touch. If you are on facebook, please friend me at Valen Cover Keefer. I wish you all the best! xoxo


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