Not A Victim

“I think it actually takes a lot of guts for us to come to terms with this that we are not super heroines and it is not about limitations, but preservation to what we have here and now and going into the future.”

This powerful statement came from my dear friend and two-time kidney transplant recipient, Mary Wu. This really spoke to me. I am learning a lot with age and through my health issues this year. Instead of focusing on things that others can do that may not be a practical life path for myself, I am focusing on the beautiful things that I can do and the opportunities that surround me. While these opportunities might be a lot simpler than some folks, they bring me great joy. I think that is what we are all striving for in life: happiness.

I inherited the genes from my father that cause me to hit the ground running when my eyes open each morning. To try and accomplish as much as I physically can in one day. So much that as soon as I sit down and stop talking for the day, I am instantly asleep. I have been fortunate for the 10 years since my transplant that I have been able to work full-time and keep this go-go-go speed. While this has been shifted back to a lower gear over the past few months, I have full intentions to kick it back up a notch when my body allows me. The beautiful wisdom I am gaining as a 30-year-old is to not look at these times as full of limitations. Instead, realizing it is of more value to take the best care of myself today in order to preserve the health I have, in hopes to live the best quality of life today and embrace the future with Noah.

The past few weeks out of the hospital have been stressful and full of doctor appointments and tests. They are still digging for the answer to my symptoms and my high pancreas levels. Last week two of my doctors were sold on the fact that I had CMV, a virus that can become a serious issue for those with suppressed immune systems, and two other doctors thought it was unlikely. This puts a patient in an awkward position of what to believe. I was at my family doctor’s office, Dr. Bixler, last Friday and he was prepping me for what the treatment would be for CMV, when all of a sudden we received the results that I tested negative for it. While this was great news, the doctors are puzzled yet again. Right now the game plan is to repeat some of the blood work and to do an endoscopic procedure to take a biopsy of my stomach and small intestine to rule out any other possible issues.

Dr. Bixler

I sat with my family doctor for 90 minutes discussing all of this. He sat by his computer as I sat next to him. He was drawing on paper to help describe what all of the results meant. Dr. Bixler talked, I asked a question. He explained another result, I asked a question. He mentioned my lipase number being high and looked at his computer for the result and I said off the top of my head that it was 1,223. It felt like we were discussing a patient. It didn’t feel like I was the patient. Rather than being afraid of everything that was going on and the possible treatment I would have to undergo, I instead soaked in as much knowledge as I could and asked as many questions as possible. By doing this, it empowers me knowing that I am learning and doing all I possibly can for my body to heal.

During that visit, Dr. Bixler said something quite profound. I will leave you with his comment, in which I have thought about daily. He said, “Valen, you know one of the things I love about you is that you are not a victim of your circumstances.”


  1. Deidre

    As always thank you for sharing this story! What a wonderful doctor for sharing that compliment. Best wishes!

    • Valen Keefer

      You are so very welcome! Thank you for reading my blog. Dr. Bixler is a wonderful doctor and I feel very blessed to have such a great team taking care of me because our health is in their hands. Thank you for your well wishes!

  2. Adriana

    Finding ‘you’ via this personal journal has been a blessing and gives me constant ‘extra hope’!!. You are APPRECIATED!! When I read your words it reminds me of my thoughts and how I think. I accepted ‘PKD’ in my teens (father). I am sure I have lived ‘larger’ due to this knowledge of ‘LIFE IS SHORT’. I absolutely travel the world with the passion of someone who knows there is no guarantee if there will be a next adventure. I have used it to my advantage in the best way I know how. Still, it is TOUGH to deal with the fears, anxieties & endless doctor appts but reading your personal journey has made me feel NOT ALONE. I’m so grateful that you have the passion (ENERGY) to write about your highs & lows. You are blessed. Thank you for all that you share ~ Wishing you answers to your current situation and a solution.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Adriana,
      What an amazingly kind and heartfelt message. Thank you for taking the time to share these beautiful thoughts with me. It is so nice to know that I too am not alone and I am so happy to hear of your positive spirit and zest for life. To know that I am ‘appreciated’ will continue to give me the ‘energy’ to keep sharing my thoughts along the way of this beautiful journey. 🙂 If you are on facebook, I welcome you to friend me – Valen Cover Keefer. Thank you so much for your well wishes and never lose that hope!

  3. Amy Dixon

    Good for you! Taking proactive and an educated approach & having excellant doctors is the best thing we can do for our health.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Amy,
      You can say that again! 😉 I couldn’t agree more! Thank you!!!


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