Our Vows

Valen and Noah married on September 17, 2011
at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park.

As I sat down to write my wedding vows one evening last year, I smiled as I thought of a conversation I had previously shared with my fiancé, Noah. I had said to him, “You know that my future is uncertain and the odds of me being back on dialysis some day and receiving another transplant are almost certain.” We joke about it today because I was having this conversation with him shortly before we got married last September 17th. It was my “this is your last chance to get out talk.” Haha!

I wanted to make sure he knew what he was getting into: That things won’t always be rosy as they are today. That it probably wouldn’t be safe for me to carry a child. I had this fear that I would hold him back from a fulfilling life.

Noah is an amazing man and I continue to learn so much from him. He said some very powerful words that day that I continue to replay in my mind. He said, “None of us have any guarantees in life. I could marry someone completely healthy today and in the blink of an eye that person could become very ill.” He then continued by saying, “I myself could become very sick. I don’t look at you any differently than anyone else.” That, right there, is one of the many reasons why I love him.

I joked and told him that I gave him his warning. I am very lucky to have such a supportive man. I remember a woman asking a question at a PKD Conference on how to tell someone that she just started dating, about her PKD. There is nothing to be ashamed of and we need to be honest with our partners in life about what we are enduring and what the future may hold for us. We need to be confident in ourselves and embrace our PKD. The right person will love us for who we are.

My smile of this memory quickly turned to nervousness. How could I convey in a few sentences what Noah means to me? I remember walking downstairs in tears telling Noah that I didn’t know how to put all of my thoughts down on paper about him. The sweet man consoled me for being emotional about having trouble writing our wedding vows. He is so dear, and after all my needless worry I was able to convey my love for him quite effectively on our wedding day.

This is what I vowed to my husband…

“It takes a special man to say “in sickness and in health” to a woman like myself. Your love, dedication and support have provided me with a life better than I could have ever dreamed of. I have seen more, lived more and learned more about life and myself since sharing it with you. We dared to dream and together we have accomplished amazing things. I am so thankful to be unconditionally loved by such an honest, devoted and caring man. Sharing my life with you gives me something to fight for and hope for the future. Your smile and full of life eyes give me strength. Knowing that I’m not alone in this journey means everything to me. I promise to respect you, support you, care for you, be your adventure buddy, best friend and unconditionally love you. I also commit that I will 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 you on this beautiful journey. I am so proud of us, the life we have created for ourselves and the awesome team we have become. I love you with all of my heart.”

And Noah vowed to me…

“1,639 days ago I sat in my brother’s house, not knowing that evening I was to meet someone that would forever change my life for the better, that evening I met you. In the past 1,639 days we have laughed together, cried together, grown together, but most importantly, developed a love and admiration, for each other, together, that has brought us to today.

Valen I love you. I am going to support, cherish, respect, and love you, unconditionally, for the rest of my life. I am excited, honored and proud that I will be able to call you my wife for the rest of our days together. I love you.”

Valen & Noah’s Wedding Ceremony at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2



  1. Connie Moss

    What a beautiful ceremony. What a beautiful couple. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Connie,
      Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! 🙂 I’m so grateful for Noah and wonderful friends like you!

  2. Pat

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful, emotional mountain-top ceremony with us. My husband and I, also, were married on September 17, in 1977. For 35 years, he has loved and cared for me through sickness and health, and through polysystic kidney and liver disease, and a recent kidney transplant. You and I are blessed! Best wishes on your anniversary, and I hope you are having a wonderful, hiccup-free vacation in Maui. 🙂

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Pat,
      How awesome is that?! We share the same anniversary! That is very special! I’m thrilled to hear that you have a supportive husband and I hope the two of you enjoy a wonderful anniversary tomorrow. Happy Anniversary!!!! Give each other a big hug for me. Thank your husband for being so wonderful and supportive and I know he is lucky to have you! 🙂 Your message made my heart happy! Here’s to many more healthy years together!!!

  3. Sara W

    My husband and I have 17 years together knowing that PKD was a possibility but only now, as we newly learned of my diagnosis did I feel like I was regretful for his sake and for my children’s. He has been amazingly supportive during my recovery from illness and hospitalization. “This is what in sickness and in health means,” he ensures. I got that mentally, but still was feeling emotionally bruised for my loved ones. I like your line here though….I also commit that I will 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 you on this beautiful journey…..this helps put this into a different framework for me. Thank you Valen. Congratulations on your marriage and upcoming anniversary. Your transparency and example are a gift.

    • Valen Keefer

      Oh, Sara-thank you so much for this special message! I know how you feel and it was difficult for me to accept that he was ok with all of my health issues, but I am so grateful for Noah and I am grateful of your supportive husband. We must embrace PKD and be thankful to be unconditionally loved and stay as positive and healthy for our loved ones. Noah’s support and love gives me something to look forward to and something to fight for and that is a huge help for me. It makes me so so happy to hear that part of my vows helped to put things into a different framework for you. Thank you for your support and following my blog.

  4. Heidi

    Thanks for sharing Valen. It is a tough thing for all of us with a genetic disease to face. That moment of reckoning. I remember the conversation with my now husband as well. “you know I have PKD… You know my dad went on dialysis when he was 48, and my kidneys will almost definitely fail as well. I know we both want children, but I probably can’t have more than two safely and they could inherit PKD and there could be complications”… Tough conversations to have when you’re starting a new life. But so important. What a great point he made about the fact that no ones health is a sure thing. Sort of like my decision to have children though they might have PKD… You can try to eliminate one possibility, but in turn might be faced with something even worse. None of us know what life holds in store tomorrow. Which is why I love your inspirational blog and attitude!!!

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Heidi,
      Thank you for this beautiful message. Your words of advice are so powerful and so true. “You can try to eliminate one possibility, but in turn might be faced with something even worse.” That is why we must keeping telling ourselves that PKD will not beat me and to never lose hope. Thank you for your support and sharing your thoughts with all of us. The support of all of you on my blog makes me feel stronger in the fight to END PKD!

  5. John Cafasso

    Valen: Thanks for coming to the Denver PKD walk and for speaking this past Sunday. Your story was an inspiration to me. You had it much tougher than I ever did and I commend your attitude.
    I hope you have continued good health for a long time.

    John Cafasso
    Colorado Springs
    Transplant 2010

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi John,
      Thank you so much for this sweet message. I was honored to be able to join all of you at the Denver Walk for PKD. What a perfect day it was. Hope you are feeling great. Take good care and hope you will keep in touch. 🙂

  6. Jody Balaun

    So ‘romantical’ I’ve got tears streaming down my face! I had a very similar exchange with my hubby Sean almost 17 years ago. But back then I wasn’t planning on PKD making me very ill…I just expected a sudden early death like my father experienced at 52. So, in ‘sickness & in health’ has become a profound part of our own wedding vows. I’m grateful to say we’re both blessed to have men who support & love us unconditionally. Sean has encouraged adventures I wouldn’t have had the courage to take alone. I’m glad you got to experience a little bit of Sean’s kind of adventure during your visit to Denver for the PKD Walk….we can’t wait to meet Noah in person. You’ve always got a 2nd home in Golden…..many more exciting things to do together, right? Hugs! Jody

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Jody,
      Not everyone is as lucky as we are to have men like Sean and Noah. I’m so so thankful as they sure do make the journey a lot easier and give us something to look forward to! Noah has encouraged adventures too. I would not have moved to CA if I didn’t meet Noah. Noah can’t wait to meet you too! I felt right at home in Golden and I can’t wait for Noah to experience it. Yes, I am definitely looking forward to our future adventures together. I wonder what Sean will come up with next when we are sitting on the porch-relaxing-eating breakfast and then boom in no time I’m all geared up from head to toe in dirt bike attire! 😉 You two are the best! xo

  7. Wade Nelson

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story! It brings me back a couple of years to when I was getting engaged and had “the talk” with my significant other too. It’s good to hear I wasn’t alone in having that conversation lol. Also, I wanted to say thanks for starting this blog. I think it is really neat what you’re doing and I get excited when I think about all of the lives you have brightened and people you will help in the future. Take care!

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Wade,
      Thank you so much for this encouraging message. Makes me so happy and grateful to have support like yours and this opportunity to connect with great people like yourself! 🙂

  8. noreen

    Hi.hope ur well. How do you cope with the knowledge that you may never have children. I also have PKD. I find that aspect hard to come to terms with. Noreen ireland.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Noreen,
      That is an interesting question as it is a topic I get asked about often and think of often. I think you have just inspired me to write one of my next blog posts on this topic. Hard to answer is a few sentences, so if you don’t mind, stay tuned and I’ll write about this soon. Ok? 🙂 Thank you for asking this.

  9. Noreen

    Thanks for your reply Valen. I am so delighted and honoured that I have imspired you to write your next blog. I have a blog also as I felt I had to get information out to people in similar situations. I too have PKD Disease as well as my dad. Some days I am so cross and others fine. More good than bad. The blog just takes my mind off the present. But I will defintely keep a look in on your blog. It is fab. You seem so positive and upbeat. It really is the only way to be. I found this quote yesterday, thought you might like it too…
    I am too positive to be doubtful, too optimistic to be fearful & too determined to be defeated.

    Best of luck with everything and I look forward to your next posting.
    A new Friend across the pond!!! Take Care. Noreen.

    • Valen Keefer

      Dear Noreen,
      Thank you so much for your support! Oh my gosh, I love love love that quote. Thank you very much for thinking of me and sharing! 🙂 I look forward to keeping in touch. Take good care. 🙂


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